Quick action of lifeguard saves swimmer

2014-01-07 00:00

THE quick action of a lifeguard at Pietermaritzburg’s Alexandra swimming pool yesterday, saved the life of a 15-year-old boy as he sank to the bottom of the pool.

The flailing Madoda Gumede was rescued by lifeguard Dhanasha Pillay at lunchtime yesterday. Pillay dived in and managed to pull him out with the help of other swimmers. Pillay performed CPR on Madoda and successfully revived him. Madoda was rushed to Edendale Hospital, where he is in a stable condition. A humble Pillay said saving the boy’s life was all in a day’s work.

“I noticed the boy going down in the deep end of the pool and knew I had to rush. I got into the pool and the other swimmers helped me get him out and put him in the shade. He was not breathing at the time so I had to do CPR and waited for the paramedics to come. I am happy to have saved the boy, as it was my job.”

Pillay has been a lifeguard for the past nine years. This was the first time he has saved a life.

Madoda’s relieved sister Nozipho Gumede said the family were very grateful to Pillay for helping her brother.

Meanwhile, the local swimming fraternity are up in arms over the closure of the Alexandra pool on the hottest days this summer, for cleaning purposes.

They say this is unheard of and there are ways of cleaning the pool without having to close it. Jay Jugwanth of the Concerned Swimming Fraternity (CSF) said if there was expertise in handling the filter system at the Alexandra pool, there would have been no need for the pool to close. Jugwanth said the system was far superior to that at the Olympic pool in Newholmes, which managed to remain open throughout the festive season. The CSF has called on the municipality to use the expertise of councillor Rodger Ashe, who was once in charge of the municipal swimming pools.

Current swimming pool manager Thomas Roux made no apology for the closure of the pool. He said the pool was only closed for two days and not three as stated by the CSF. Roux said the pool was closed on January 2 and 4, after there were 1 621 bathers on January 1 and 1 203 on January 3. He added that others may have scaled the wall and entered illegally.

He said that the result was that the water became very murky and despite efforts to get the pool clean and clear, the murkiness remained. He said putting safety first, they decided to close the pool. “We did not want a repeat of what happened last year when there was a drowning at the pool.”

He pointed to the near drowning of Madoda and said he was saved because the water was clear, and the lifeguard could see he was in difficulty. Roux said Alexandra pool has an older system than the Olympic pool.

‘Alex pool’s system is not older’

ASHE confirmed that he managed all municipal recreation facilities, which included the swimming pools, for about 20 years.

“There can be little doubt that there is something drastically wrong with the operation of the municipal swimming pools and the recreational facilities in general. Last year, when there was a drowning at Alexandra swimming pool and the water was said to be murky at the time, the response from the municipal manager’s (MM) office was, ‘the Olympic swimming pool has a more modern filtration system and configuration compared with the Alexandra swimming pool and this accounts for the latter’s inability to sustain the required water quality in the same way as the former’.

“This is incorrect and shows a lack of knowledge by whoever supplied the information to the MM’s office. The Alexandra swimming pool was rebuilt and a new filter installed long after the Olympic pool was in operation. Furthermore, the Alexandra swimming pool filter has about double the filtering capacity of the Olympic swimming pool. This I know because I managed both operations. Swimming pools are always under pressure of large bathing loads during the peak swimming season in summer, but with properly trained staff and good management giving the required support, the problems being experienced recently can be avoided,” Ashe said.

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