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More lifeguards to return this weekend – but not to all bays

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BEACH lifeguards are due to return to St Brelade’s Bay this weekend, adding to those at St Ouen’s Bay – but Plémont and Grève de Lecq could remain without cover for the rest of the summer, an Assistant Economic Development Minister has said.

RNLI Lifeguards training on St Ouen's Beach Josh Evans..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (28447828)

However, Senator Steve Pallett added that as tourists were currently not allowed to visit Jersey, there would be far fewer less-experienced swimmers entering the water and most local people had a good understanding and respect for the Island’s dangerous seas.

In the UK, the RNLI is coming under fire for not implementing beach-lifeguard services after two people died in separate incidents in Cornwall at the weekend. And in Jersey, beaches were expected to fill up this week, with temperatures forecast to hit 25°C today and remain high for the rest of the week.

Charlie Rio with PPE at El Tico station Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (28461373)

But Senator Pallett, a long-distance sea swimmer, said he did not think lives were being put at risk by cover not being in place at the north-coast beaches.

‘We are not putting people’s lives at risk – it is the other way round,’ he said. ‘We are making people’s lives safer by providing services at a time of an international pandemic. We have got to put some perspective in this. There is not a single charity or organisation that has not been affected by Covid-19 – even our own emergency services.

‘We have got to make sure we keep people as safe as possible in the water but I think we have a very responsible Island and I think the level of education we provide to young people about safety in the water – which the RNLI and schools provide – reduces the risk of people being caught out in the water.

‘Something which has been overlooked, in a way, is that we have not any tourists here at the moment. I think local people are pretty well-versed in the dangers.’

Making reference to the rescue in St Brelade’s Bay on Saturday – when a woman commandeered a kayak to save a struggling swimmer – he said that a number of rescues were carried out by members of the public and went undocumented. ‘People do get caught out. We saw that in St Brelade at the weekend but generally a lot of the cases that we have to deal with in the summer involve people who are not used to the tidal conditions and the water and we have not got that at the moment.’

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St Brelade's Beach Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (28461381)

He added: ‘We are the only place in the British Isles with lifeguard cover on any beach and that has only happened because of close collaboration between the Coastguard, the government and the RNLI.

‘That happened because we have got some lifeguards locally who were prepared to get some training in place to allow that to happen and to put some procedures in place. Those procedures are extremely complicated and require a great deal of staff training and they have done that in short order.

‘We will have lifeguard cover in St Brelade’s Bay for this weekend but there will be limited lifeguard cover in Jersey this year throughout the summer. Some beaches will not be covered as they normally are, purely because the RNLI cannot get enough lifeguards trained to be able to cover those beaches and some of the procedures are quite complicated.’

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Last weekend, lifeguards formally resumed patrols at Le Braye in St Ouen’s Bay. However, Senator Pallett said before that, lifeguards had been voluntarily keeping watch in the area for some time.

‘I am not saying there will not be cover or there will not be eyes and ears on those beaches as the summer progresses but it is going to take time to build the service back up,’ he said.

‘Normally at this point, the lifeguards would have had about eight to 12 weeks of training. That has clearly not happened so they are having to do that as they go, while they are operating the service.’

RNLI lifeboat services are unaffected and remain fully operational.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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