In Hérault, the summer season is launched for sea rescuers and the ARS

In Hérault, the summer season is launched for sea rescuers and the ARS

Les sapeurs-pompiers lors d'une présentation des techniques de sauvetage en mer. Midi Libre – Thomas Ancona-Léger

With 75 positions distributed throughout the department, the 2024 coastal rescue system for swimming surveillance and drowning prevention is expanding its territorial network.

It was in Mèze, on the banks of the Thau lagoon, that the Hérault prefect François-Xavier Lauch presented this Wednesday, July 10, the coastal rescue system for the 2024 season. A system renewed every year, which aims to organize the surveillance of bathing areas and the prevention of drowning, coordinated by the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (SDIS 34).

75 first aid stations

A major challenge for a particularly touristy department, the monitoring of swimming and water activities must also adapt to the specificities of the Hérault coastline, the most important in Occitanie, which includes 90 kilometers of coastline. and 24,000 hectares of lagoons (including 7,500 for the Etang de Thau alone). This year, there are 75 first aid stations dotted around the area, from La Grande-Motte to Vendres, with a few posts located inland, along lakes and rivers (Lac de Jouarres). , Lac du Salagou, Lac du Crès, Pont du Diable and Pont de Saint-Étienne d’Issensac). That is an increase of six positions compared to 2023, the year when rescuers intervened 166 times and during which 16 people died by drowning in Hérault.

250 volunteer firefighters mobilized

Most of these first aid stations are managed by SDIS 34 itself with no less than 250 volunteer firefighters monitoring swimming in the area. The others are divided between SNSM rescuers (Maugio-Carnon, Palavas-les-Flots and Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone) and territorial agents (La Grande-Motte, Vendres and Valras). Staff supported by the gendarmerie and national police services, the important role of which the prefect was keen to emphasize. "We have managed to maintain constant potential despite the mobilization of numerous agents for the Olympic Games, he declared. We owe it to the dedication of those who decided not to take a vacation this year."

The dangers of rip current

Major cause of drowning on the Hérault coast, rip currents are so-called "return" which takes swimmers, even the most experienced, out to sea. Trapped, the latter then becomes exhausted while trying to return to the beach, which increases the risk of accident. In 2023, throughout the summer season, there are 13 days "Dangerous swell and wave alert" who were affected by this particular phenomenon.

The first thing to do for anyone caught in this phenomenon is not to panic and to stay calm. It is then advisable not to fight against the current at the risk of exhausting yourself and being carried out to sea while swimming parallel to the beach in order to move towards a more favorable area and express your distress situation. .

Water quality monitoring

A less visible but nevertheless central actor since it guarantees water quality, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) carries out monitoring for a period ranging from ;nbsp;June 15 to September 15. "The sampling points are always identical and defined in the area of ​​maximum bather traffic or in the area that presents the greatest risk of pollution“, the organization emphasizes. Analyses are thus carried out daily in laboratories approved by the Ministry of Health, the results of which, known within 48 hours, are posted at the bathing areas. Please note that in the event of poor water quality, the ARS notifies a ban on swimming in the area concerned and conducts an investigation to determine the causes of the pollution.

ARS, SDIS, SNSM and territorial agents: this is the team that will watch over bathers throughout the summer season in Hérault. But this should not make us forget the essential actions to avoid tragedies: favor supervised areas, wet the back of your neck and stomach by gradually entering the water, do not expose yourself too much to the sun before swimming or do not consume alcohol before going into the water.

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