Troisdorf Two young people have already drowned in Rotter See this year, and there have been recurring fatal swimming accidents there in recent years. The city and aid and relief organizations have now agreed on a concept to help prevent accidents in the future.
An alcohol and glass ban, a lifeguard on weekends and a separate swimming area - these are the measures which will be adopted to help prevent fatal swimming accidents at the Rotter See (Rotter Lake) in the future. The city of Troisdorf held a round table discussion and these steps were agreed upon.
Ten days ago, volunteers from the German Life Saving Association (DLRG) rescued a man from the lake, but he died a short time later in hospital. Only some days before that, they had retrieved the body of another man from the lake. He had ventured into the water with two friends to an artificial swimming island, fell down and drowned because he could not swim.
According to Bettina Plugge, city spokeswoman in Troisdorf, carelessness has been the most frequent cause of swimming fatalities at the lake. Lack of swimming ability is not the only reason, she says. Time and again, intoxicated people meet on summer evenings at the lake to celebrate and then go into the water while inebriated. According to the city, rescue workers have been frequently interfered with, hindered and even pelted with bottles by drunken swimmers as they attempted to do their jobs. After all these incidents, the city of Troisdorf decided to invite aid and relief organizations and experts to a round table discussion so they could come up with solutions for tackling the problem.
"It was important to me to that we come together after these incidents and look at the situation from different angles," said Mayor Alexander Biber. "The measures we have now agreed upon are, for me, a first step in the right direction and should be implemented as soon as possible," he added. The city will establish swimming supervision at the lake together with the DLRG Rhein-Sieg and the DRK-Water division, at least on weekends. They should be in place already in the next two weeks.
Until now, Rotter See did not have lifeguards, and swimming was only permitted at one's own risk. This will remain the case in large parts of the lake. But in a swimming area marked with buoys, lifeguards will be on duty in the future. "We considered together with the DLRG to what extent it is possible to ensure swimming supervision there. Those responsible agreed that it would only be possible and sensible to set up a rescue tower in two places on the lake," reports Biber. Since the DLRG works on a voluntary basis and the lifeguards are professionally engaged during the week, it is only possible to provide swimming supervision at the lake on weekends and only on especially warm days during the week. Compensation for the DLRG and DRK is to be negotiated in the coming week.
A "rescue drone" will make it easier to track down drowning victims
Residents had created a petition and collected signatures to lobby for a swimming area at the lake. In order to establish a lifeguard service at the lake, two observation towers and a container for storing emergency equipment are to be set up at the lake in the next two weeks. A "rescue drone" will also to make it easier to track down drowning victims. A "Lifeguard" app can be used by swimmers on site to alert rescue workers who are already at the lake. It will be tested there. "I'm very excited that we're getting the opportunity to try out such technology," Biber says. He also plans to have the signage at the lake updated and made clearer. The new signs will have a QR code to the app.
Residents complain of disturbances and do not want commercial use of lake
In the past, intoxicated people have repeatedly caused problems at Rotter See, from disturbing the peace to even verbally and physically attacking rescue workers. For this reason, residents have already complained many times, Biber reported. To address this issue, an alcohol and glass ban will be in effect until Sept. 30. "With the alcohol and glass ban, we not only want to reduce the risk of injury for families and children, but also send a clear signal. The recreational areas at Rotter See are there for the general public and not for drunken, violent individuals and groups," said Biber. The public order service and the police will regularly monitor the area to make sure the ban is being observed.
The city is refraining from commercial use of the lake for the time being. "We lack the necessary infrastructure on site for this. Moreover, this would run counter to the wishes of local residents who want to enjoy the lake. If we advertised it in a big way, many more people would visit the lake," concludes Biber.
Orig. text: Annika Schmidt