A tragedy on the beach of Sozopoli in Halkidiki almost occurred when an elderly woman was pulled out of the water, without breathing, by the local lifeguard. The lifeguard, Christos Gazis, immediately noticed that there was a disturbance and immediately got into action.
He headed to the spot and pulled the bather out of the water, at which point he found that she was not breathing.
“She was given five puffs with an Ambu mask and she started breathing. I then gave her 15 litres of oxygen and her oxygen saturation slowly returned, as did her senses and speech," the lifeguard, who brought her back to life, told GRTimes.
"When she was pulled out, her saturation had dropped to 60, while as soon as she was picked up by the ambulance, it had risen to 92.
"Throughout the incident, the lady was spitting water out of her mouth. She essentially woke up from the incident."
Then, Christos Gazis revealed that a similar incident had taken place six days earlier with a 77-year-old lady who has been coming to the area for more than 40 years.
"She always went to the shallows because she couldn't swim, but she never told me that," he said. "At one stage she was right in front of the Tower and the next time I see her swimming strangely."
"So I headed over there and two metres before I got there, I saw she was in a 'jellyfish' position. I gave her two puffs by mouth, three more with Ambu and she came back."
Hero for the residents
The two incidents brought many smiles to the wider area of Sozopolis, where dozens of residents - bathers who visit its beach, thanked the lifeguard through social media networks saying the following:
"It should be emphasised that the lifeguard - hero of the area has been working for the last 12 years in the industry and has encountered hundreds of identical incidents, however, where he works this summer, he has been impressed by the hospitality of the people and how everyone knows each other, resulting in a family atmosphere where everyone protects each other.
"The people here are quite welcoming and I've been very impressed by that.
"Every day the grandmothers who come for their bath bring me fruit, while local shopkeepers take good care of me."
"Extreme phenomenon with drownings in Halkidiki - Not even the islands have so many"
According to Gazis, most drowning incidents concern elderly bathers, who have a history with their health. With Halkidiki, as he says, being in a worse position compared to the country's islands due to the particular morphology of its beaches and the currents that its sea areas have.
"Drowning incidents in Halkidiki do not exist anywhere else in the country and are usually on beaches visited by retirees. It happens all the time and it doesn't seem like this particular problem is going to stop," the lifeguard said.
"At 20 metres from the coast they 'go out' or drown a little further in. The current may have a wave or in the shallows it may be a little more 'shallow' in some places, with the result that when they step there but it suddenly deepens, and the person panics and then drowns."