STAFF REPORTER ISOLATED coves, bays and beaches around the coastlines of Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza will have lifeguards operating from jet ski launches this summer. The move comes in the wake of a highly successful pilot scheme which was launched during last year's tourist season whereby 14 such “difficult-to-reach” bathing spots in the municipality of Arta were served by a similar lifeguard system. Now, the regional Interior ministry wants to extend the water-based rescue scheme to the coves bordering the Tramuntana mountain range (Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Deya, Valldemossa, Esorca and Soller), beaches in the municipality of Campos and others not already covered in Arta.

Interior Minister, Maria Angeles Leciñena, took time in the Balearic parliament yesterday to explain to MPs how the emergency look-out system, operating from the sea, as opposed to the beach is to be extended in time for this year's tourist season. The beaches which were selected for the lifeguard programme all had specific criteria which were decided on by the ministry. “The coves and bays are ones which promote the image of the Balearic coastline,” said the Minister “being protected, unspoiled areas which therefore do not permit the setting up of fixed lookout towers and other land-based installation. These sites, she furthered, also have in common the fact that they are difficult to reach on foot.

Leciñena also said that the town councils governing the municipalities which encompass the isolated bathing spots frequently don't have enough money to set up a full emergency rescue service lasting for several months of the year. Last year's pilot scheme in Arta was an experimental period whereby five full-time lifeguards operating from jet-ski launches were in continuous contact with the Emergency services through sophisticated mobile communication equipment. The speed with which the “aquatic” lifeguards can get to accident victims on the launches equipped with lifesaving equipment and stretchers meant that double the number of incidents were successfully attended to than in 2007, said the Minister. Of the 376 beaches in the Balearics, 82 present medium-level risks, and 91 high risk. Last year, 15 people died in accidents around the coastline compared to 18 in 2007.