Sunday afternoon, Tulum authorities were alerted after a 19-year-old drowned on Santa Fe beach, Tulum. The individual was a domestic tourist hailing from Puebla in central Mexico.
Official reports of the incident state that the tragedy occurred just after 2pm when nearby swimmers noticed a body floating in the water. Lifeguards from the municipality arrived on the scene and attempted to resuscitate the man. Paramedics from CostaMed also arrived and tried to apply CPR, but the man had already lost his life.
Upon confirmation of his death, personnel from Quintana Roo’s State Attorney General’s Office were contacted, to remove the body and arrange an investigation into his death. With stories of drownings becoming more and more frequent throughout the Mexican-Caribbean, tourists and locals alike are beginning to question why there is not a greater lifeguard presence in the region.
Santa Fe beach has become a much-loved destination for tourists throughout recent years, due to its proximity to Tulum’s archaeological ruins and crystal-clear waters. The beach is also far from Cancun’s Hotel Zone, making it a less-crowded alternative to Playa Delfines or Playa Ballenas.
However, the tranquility and beauty of this beach does not mean that tourists are safe from danger, as a similar drowning incident occurred at Santa Fe beach earlier this year: On February 8th, another domestic tourist died on the beach after drowning in the ocean. The 36-year-old, from Mexico City, swam out too far and subsequently drowned. Lifeguards and first responders were only notified of his injuries after beachgoers pulled him out of the water and attempted to give him first aid themselves.
Whilst authorities and lifeguards alike attempted to revive the man with CPR, they arrived far too late and the man’s life was lost. This clearly shows that there should be more authorities present on Santa Fe beach, as it could help to save the lives of countless others who could suffer the same fate.
One solution that may curb potential drownings on Santa Fe beach is the re-institution of the Mexican Navy’s ‘Operation Lifeguard’. Initially implemented for this year’s summer vacation period (between July 29th – August 29th), the program was designed to ‘protect the integrity of all national and international travelers who took part in water activities on their vacation.
The operation was carried out on the most popular beaches on both the east and west coasts of Mexico. In Quintana Roo, special attention was given to popular beaches in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, as well as Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres and Playa El Cielo on Cozumel.
The Coast Guard and Civil Protection authorities were also included in the programme, to ensure swift communication between authorities and the government in the case of a tourist emergency.
Members of the programme included lifeguards, police, naval officers and government officials, who worked together to coordinate life-saving actions and medical support for those in need.
In particular, the Naval Search, Rescue and Maritime Surveillance Station (ENSAR) of Isla Mujeres trained other lifeguard stations in Quintana Roo to respond to citizens in danger of drowning, equipping different lifeguard stations with speedboats and updated first-aid kits.
As always, to reduce the risk of drowning, tourists are encouraged to abide by the flag system on beaches throughout the Mexican-Caribbean: a green flag means it is safe to swim in the ocean, a yellow flag means swimmers should take caution and a red flag means swimming is prevented. Tourists who want to visit Santa Fe beach or any beach in the region should pay attention to what lifeguards are saying, and report any instances of missing beachgoers or drowning individuals to nearby authorities.
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