by Dagmar Reinhard
December 14th, 2015 was the Costa Ballena Lifeguards graduation by the Quepos Coastguard, which is responsible for the province of Puntarenas. That day the sky was brilliantly blue, with no clouds and at 8 am it was already getting hot. At the entrance to the Coastguard compound located on top of a hill, towering the Pez Vela Marine, we were received by police officers and coastguards in impeccably white uniforms. The Security Minister Luis Gustavo Mata was to take part in the ceremony with 50 new coastguard officials, 20 MINAE officials (Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications), 10 Lifeguards, and other local groups.
After the introductory speeches, Minister Mata, Lic. Ludgardo Bolaños, Mayor of Quepos, Coastguard’s Director Mario Barrientos, and other members of the board, congratulated each graduate and handed out the certification, achieved by excelling during the very tough physical training. The Costa Ballena lifeguards went through an intensive training including pool, diving, open rough sea, and beach rescue drill.
Alvaro Cedeño, young and very experienced supervisor of the Costa Ballena group, addressed graduates and guests and spoke about the number of tourists who were saved at the only two manned beaches and the urgency of having more lifeguards and lifeguard stations in order to avoid drownings not only during the national holidays but as well during big festivals like Envision, bringing thousands of visitors to Uvita.
(So far the construction of new towers, the lifeguards’s salary, and equipment are paid by private donations and fundraising events organized by the Costa Ballena Lifeguards Committee, which at the moment is not receiving funding from governmental entities).
The promotion of the young officials at the Coastguard premises made the guests feel proud (our committee, as well.) For Alvaro Cedeño this was a great day to make new contacts in an effort to improve the much needed support for safety at the beaches.
Good news: The Coastguard Quepos is offering ongoing training courses for 2016.