Life as a lifeguard courses and ask around to find people. Off season most of the lifeguards are young students, others have some other jobs. In the winter I spend more time at the Bombeiros (fire service) and do some work as a private driver.
This month we have spoken to Nemésio Rafael Viana Damas who is a lifeguard on Meia Praia - in fact, he is in charge of all the lifeguards that work on Meia Praia during the summer. Here he tells us how to stay safe while you are having fun and gives us an insider’s view about his favourite restaurant. 1. Please tell us about yourself - where you are from and your family background. I was born and raised in Lagos. My family were either fisherman or were in the military. I have always lived near to the beach. 2. Please tell us about your professional background. I have been a lifeguard since 1999. I am also a firefighter and an ambulance driver. 3. How did you get into being a life guard? Ever since I was born my family and I have lived near to the beach. Growing up we were near to Porto de Mós beach. The lifeguard from the beach Macarrão was my mentor and was always saying that I should train to become a lifeguard so when I was old enough I decided to do it. I thought it would be the perfect summer. At that time there were only a few lifeguards, and Baywatch on TV. When I started I never wanted to stop – it’s a way of life.
5. How many life guards work on the beaches in the summer? On the beach I work on we have 13 concessions (shadesrental) so it’s necessary to have 18 lifeguards, one bystation and the others to operate the rescue jet ski, rescue quad bike, and some areas that need some because it is so busy. I think it depends on each beach.
8. Can you describe a typical day on the beach. The working day starts at 9am. First I get the rescue quad bike, then I get to the beach and put up a shade for me, get the jet ski ready to operate and in the water, then I make a patrol to all the lifeguard stations. Talk with all of them to see if everything is ok and that they have everything they need. Some days we do rescue training with the jet skis and water patrol. If it’s a normal and quiet day I can spend some time under a shade, if the beach is busy I try to get extra lifeguards. The day ends at 7pm with all the gear closed and ready for the next day. 9. What are the main challenges you face? The main challenges I think is how to deal with the lifeguards, different people of different ages with people who have different ideas.
4. Is it your full-time job? I work at the beach six months a year. It’s one of my jobs but not a full time job.
6. Where do you recruit the other life guards from for the summer? I recruit the lifeguards that I know and I go to the training centres that offer lifeguard
7. What is the procedure in an emergency? When there is an emergency the lifeguard from the area calls me with the radio and tells me what kind of emergency it is - if it’s a drowning rescue I send the jet ski and go with the quad bike to the area. It if is an emergency on the beach I go there and see what the problem is, if there is a need to take the victim to the hospital I call 112 and tell them what the emergency is and where I will be with the quad bike to get the paramedics near the patient or to take the person to the ambulance, we have 6 different meeting points at the beach to evacuate the patient.
10. What is the best bit of you job? The best is to spend all day long at the beach, meet new people and help anyone who needs it. 11. What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced? I have had a few challenges - the worst are always when lives are at risk. I have had some hard situations but with the support of the fireman we are able to sort out these situations. 12. What is the most common problem you
have to deal with? One of the most common problems is that children get lost. It happens every year but normally it turns out ok. 13. What are the biggest risks you have seen holiday makers or tourists take? The main risks are the people don’t avoid the hours that are hottest and skip sun protection. They also should go and talk to the lifeguard to ask about the water conditions and about potential dangers that the beach poses. 14. What advice would you give to beach users during the summer? My advice is, check the flags when arriving to the beach, stay near the lifeguard stations and ask for help when in need. 15. How can people keep themselves and their children safe? Talk with the lifeguards about the beach, don’t take your eyes off your children when they are in the water. 18. Please, tell your favourite restaurant and your favourite beach. I have a few nice restaurants that I like but the one I go to most often is Bahia Beach Bar, all the staff are very nice and the food is really good. My favourite beach – it’s difficult to say but probably Porto de Mós – it will be always my beach. I also like the old Dona Ana beach and of course, the one I work on, Meia Praia, which is a long white sand beach, with sand dunes and clear water.
Published on Jul 25, 2016