There were no drownings recorded at any of the official swimming beaches across the region, with Kouga Municipality lifeguards keeping a close eye on bathers – despite the beaches being the busiest they have been in a number of years.
The lifeguards prevented seven near drownings, and conducted 56 rescues during December.
“We are, however, deeply saddened by the death of a 13-year-old teenager who passed away in hospital due to secondary drowning (where fluid left in the lungs can cause the person to die long after the incident took place), hours after he was saved by Kouga lifeguards from drowning,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks.
The teenager, together with a 15-year-old and middle-aged male, were pulled from the water between Aston Bay Beach and Paradise Beach (past the Aston Bay Estuary mouth) on January 1, 2023, at approximately 18:00 after being caught in a rip current.
Lifeguards at the scene responded immediately and rescued the three victims – this, despite it being outside of their normal operating hours (08:00 - 17:00).
The semi-conscious 13-year-old patient was foaming at the mouth and coughing water. A primary assessment was conducted, and the patient monitored, while in the vomit drill – assessing for consciousness applying the AVPU scale (Awake, Verbal, Painful Stimulation, Unresponsive).
The lifeguards followed protocol and handed the patients, who were verbally and physically responsive, over to Gardmed Ambulance Services for advanced medical care.
“Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased; all our thoughts have been with them through this extremely difficult time.”
A total of 134 help-outs were conducted, while 20 beachgoers received first aid.
“We would like to commend our lifeguards for a job well done and beachgoers for co-operating so well and heeding warnings,” said Hendricks.
“We’d also like to thank the NSRI for the incredible work they did the past season to help the municipality keep bathers safe in the water.”
The municipality boasts 20 well-trained and qualified homegrown lifeguards at its two blue flag beaches in the region – Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay (12 lifeguards) and Cape St Francis Beach in Cape St Francis (eight lifeguards).
“This is the first time that the lifeguards at these two beaches are all from the Kouga region. They will be on until April 30, 2023,” said Hendricks.
Two shark spotters have also been appointed. An additional 33 lifeguards ensured beachgoers’ safety at Kabeljauws, Pellsrus, Aston Bay, Paradise Beach Estuary, St Francis Bay, Granny’s Pool, and Oyster Bay.