Waterford council unable to find lifeguards to cover its beaches this month

Authority says issue partly down to young people who take roles finishing school and college

Waterford City and County Council has said there is a lack of sufficiently trained and qualified lifeguards the cover the county’s beaches at present. File image: iStock.

Waterford City and County Council has said there is a lack of sufficiently trained and qualified lifeguards the cover the county’s beaches at present. File image: iStock.

 

Waterford City and County Council has said there is a lack of sufficiently trained and qualified lifeguards to cover the county’s beaches at present.

In response to queries about two children being rescued from the sea by an onlooker after being caught in a rip tide last weekend, the local authority said it would be unable to provide lifeguards at Bunmahon Beach until the end of the month.

The council said part of the problem was that many lifeguards were unable to take up their roles because they were sitting the Leaving Cert or finishing college work.

A daily lifeguard service is provided at several beaches in Waterford but not Bunmahon as it does not have Blue Flag status, which is awarded based on water quality and safety standards.

Gardaí­estimated that thousands visited Bunmahon Beach last Sunday.

Elaine O’Connor Cahill, whose daughter (10) and her cousin (11) were rescued on Sunday, told WLR FM that she quickly lost sight of the girls in the water at Bunmahon.

Impeded by cars

Emergency service crews attempted to respond but were impeded by cars blocking the entrance to the water, she said.

“No one will understand how quick this happened and it could have been so much worse,” Ms O’Connor Cahill said.

She recounted the horror of seeing the children disappear and praised the man who rescued the girls.

“All I could see was water for miles. I looked to heaven and I said ‘please don’t do this to me’,” she said.

The council said it was “unable to provide a lifeguard service at Bunmahon during June due to the unavailability of sufficiently trained and qualified lifeguards”.

“Ordinarily, the lifeguards recruited by the Council are young adults looking for summer work when on holidays from school and college,” a council spokesman said.

“A full-time service at Bunmahon beach will commence as soon as the numbers of trained and qualified lifeguards are available, and it is intended that this service will commence with effect from June 28th.”