Finalist for the Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Maritime SAR Operation Award
Five years ago, Alexander Menzel was surfing with friends on a beach in France, when one of them was so badly hurt he was unable to get out of the water. Luckily Alexander is a trained lifeguard and was able to help.
It made the group of friends realise that many European beaches do not have lifeguards, and such an accident could happen to anyone anywhere.
They decided that they wanted to make beaches safer and so in 2015, they created the Surf Life Rescue association – covering the entire scope of water rescue - to make beaches, lakes and major events safer for bathers and water sports enthusiasts.
Over the last three years, they have built a Europe-wide association from scratch, able to react quickly in emergency situations, provide immediate medical care to an injured person and to transport them to hospital as soon as possible.
They want to ensure that there are more and more well-trained staff/volunteers ready to help people in distress in the water, across Europe’s beaches.
Today, the association has 350 members across Europe, including representatives from France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg and Holland.
Alexander Menzel manages the main office of the association.
In 2017 alone, they conducted 170 rescue missions and provide lifesaving support for events, with the details and a call for volunteers announced to members via facebook and whatsapp.
Volunteers organize their own travel and accommodation arrangements and liaise with the event organisers to understand the requirements and manage risk effectively.
“This is just the beginning”, says Alexander Menzel, “In time the association wants to offer pan-European emergency preparedness and we want to meet the highest possible standards.”