Tamarindo Beach is one of the most visited tourist centers in the country, and since accidents can occur at its beach with surfboards, fainting from heat exhaustion or jet ski collisions, three merchants raised funds to build a new lifeguard tower.
The tower, which has been functioning since May 23rd, was an idea from the Tamarindo Integral Development Association (ADIT- Asociacion de Desarrollo Integral de Tamarindo), in conjunction with private businesses in the area.
“The initiative was to provide security to tourists and residents of Tamarindo. Our main attraction is the beach and so we want the experience to be as safe and pleasant as possible,” replied Urs Schmid, ADIT president, in an email.
Although the tower wasn’t inaugurated until May, Tamarindo Beach has had two lifeguards who help vacationers since December of 2014.
According to Jonathan Thompson, lifeguard instructor for the Costa Rican National Association of Lifeguards who is part of the Tamarindo team, from December 25 to June 25, 2014, 120 rescues were performed and about 50 people were assisted due to surfboard accidents, jet ski crashes and fainting spells.
“The most complicated rescues that we have had are the ones that happen near the rocks, because the currents always flow in the direction of the rocks, but one time, a strong current dragged out six people who were together, and my partner and several surfers helped us with this strong rescue. That was on December 28, 2014,” Thompson explained.
According to the rescuer, lifeguards must be certified in Prevention and Water Rescue (PRA- Prevencion y Rescate Acuatico), First Aid Assistant(APA- Asistente de Primeros Auxilios) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
From the Tower
The lifeguards’ lookout point is a 4.5-meter (15-foot) wooden construction suspended 1.5 square meters above the level of the sand. The structure is made of wood that is painted in order to extend the life of the structure and reduce maintenance. Its walls have a separation to maintain adequate ventilation and it has the capacity to house a stretcher inside to care for a patient.
The project cost $8,500 and was funded by the businesses Patagonia Argentinian Grill & Restaurant and Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. In addition, the Hotel Capitan Suizo donated part of its workshop to do some of the carpentry work.
To make the project sustainable long term and to maintain the tower, the association is selling shirts in Tamarindo’s main surf shops, with the Programa de Salvavidas (Lifeguard Program) logo, and they created the website gofundme.com/TamarindoLifeguards to receive donations.