Published Monday, January 4, 2021
500,000-plus emergencies were
attended in 2020
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Red Cross attended 518,215 emergencies in 2020. The number is high even though fewer people were expected to visit tourist places or stay in public areas due to the restrictions ordered by the government, such as ban-on-driving rules and limitation of access to shops, to try to stop the advance of covid-19 in the country.
According to the international aid organization, of the total number of emergencies attended last year, the majority, 13,844, were related to people infected with covid-19.
Trailing behind pandemic induced emergencies, 6,560 patients needed to be transferred in delicate condition to the hospital. Of these 1,158 people were killed in accidents, most of them in car crashes.
Implementing restrictions to public beaches did not prevent accidents either. Paramedics reported 184 people rescued from water accidents. And 96 people died of drowning in the past year.
To reduce deaths from water accidents, the Red Cross had increased prevention informational campaigns on the most visited beaches such as Manzanillo in Limón Province, Tamarindo in Guanacaste Province, Ventanas, Ballena Marine Park and Manuel Antonio in Puntarenas Province. Also, new lifeguard posts were installed on the aforementioned beaches, the Red Cross said in its statement.
Paramedics call on the public to take safety actions even further during the summer school vacation break from December to February. "It is important to maintain a responsible behavior when entering the water," Jim Batres, Director of the Costa Rican Red Cross said. The most common reminders are to not go swimming (swimming pools, lagoons or rivers) immediately after eating, avoid substances (such as liquor, medicines or drugs) that may reduce the ability to react in the water, and always take care of children and elderly people.
Another recommendation by specialists is to learn about the dangers of each beach by reading the warning signs or asking for information from the authorities or residents of the coastal communities.
Not all beaches have lifeguards, so tourists must inform themselves with the dangers of the beach they are visiting.
In the case of hiring a boat tour, it is recommended asking the tour operator if the navigability certificate is valid, verify there are enough life jackets in good condition, and do not agree to board the vessel if all occupants do not have their vests properly placed.
Tourists must also ask the tour operator to have the appropriate civil liability insurance policies, which is the minimum requirement to protect people in the event of an accident.
Among other types of emergencies attended by paramedics are 136 cases of people lost in mountains. Experts recommend that people who practice mountain hiking tours to always do it in groups and with the guidance of an expert. In the case of solo-hiking in forests and mountains, it is recommended to inform a third person about the planned route, this way if there is an accident it may be easier to track and locate the missing person.
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