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The first action of the Surf & Rescue initiative, which brings together the Portuguese Surf School Association and the Instituto de Socorros a Náufragos, took place yesterday in Costa de Caparica, aimed at strengthening safety on Portuguese beaches.

"The goal is to prepare and train surfers to be able to complement the existing safety devices on the beaches, and to do what they already do throughout the year, which is to help save people", highlighted to Lusa the commander Velho Gouveia, director of the Institute for Socorros a Náufragos (ISN).

On the beach of Santo António, on a gray but rainless morning, and with the sea relatively calm, the 30 participants, who had exhausted the available spaces, were divided into two groups, with a 'platoon' receiving first theoretical training, on land , and the other to learn sea rescue tactics, then reverse roles.

"With this, it is intended that surfers have some preparation in the areas of basic life support and rescue of victims, but we also want another important thing from the surfers, which is to feed the records that exist of their participation at the level so that we can then draw conclusions and improve this partnership in the future”, underlined Velho Gouveia.

The participation of surfers in the rescue of people in danger at sea is evidence for those who regularly visit Portuguese beaches.

However, as they are often informal rescues, they are not communicated to the authorities, lacking reliable numbers that allow for a more detailed analysis of this reality, and this is a gap that the competent authorities want to see corrected with these trainings.

“This doesn't come out of nowhere, we have statistical elements at the National Maritime Authority that prove that every year, practically, there are dozens of situations in which surfers help citizens and in which they themselves need the authorities to provide relief. Once again, here, two needs come together, so that the profit is also doubled”, said the commander.

In turn, the executive director of the Portuguese Surf School Association (AESDP), Afonso Teixeira, pointed out the growing importance of surfers in rescue actions on Portuguese beaches, especially after the end of the bathing season, and the opportunity for them to provide more skills in this area through the knowledge of ISN professionals.

“This training mixes two worlds, surfing and water rescue, and this allows us to have people trained to do rescues and provide greater safety on our beaches all year round,” he said.

An idea shared by the vice-president of the Almada City Council (CMA), João Couvaneiro, who underlined the role that surfers have played over the years in rescues at sea and the importance of being well prepared for that purpose.

“We know that surf schools and surfers are often an important aid in rescuing swimmers and bathers who are in difficulties and, through this course that is being done today, we contribute to making them do it one by one. more aware of what the risks are and what the needs of ensuring safety on the beaches are”, said the official.

João Couvaneiro admitted that this was “a summer that brought many challenges, related to the pandemic situation and people's health security”, stressing the importance of keeping economic activity alive in the bathing area of ​​Costa de Caparica.

“We know that the economic fabric suffered a lot from this interruption, namely, the surf schools, the beach support and the entire tourist sector. Therefore, everything we can do to promote this and other activities related to the beach, we will do, because we believe in the potential of our territory”, he concluded.

The first of three actions aimed at coaches and other members of surf schools took place on Santo António beach, in Costa de Caparica, with the support of the Almada City Council and the Costa da Caparica Surf Association. Similar initiatives now follow in Sagres (September 26) and Matosinhos (September 30).

The promoters guarantee that “Surf & Rescue” is just the first initiative of a broader set of actions that will be promoted in partnership between the ISN and AESDP to increase safety on Portuguese beaches, because there is sea and sea, there is surfing and save.


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