Project Nicaragua: Semana Santa 2015 Recap

Project Nicaragua: Semana Santa 2015 Recap


We here at ISLA are very happy to have just completed our sixth Semana Santa volunteering in Nicaragua. The Project was a great success, but it wouldn’t have been as successful without the help from our partners at Lifeguards Without Borders who oversaw the medical and scientific research component of the Project. We had 17 volunteers with us that included individuals from California, Florida, North and South Carolina, Massachusetts, the Dominican Republic, and Australia. Our volunteers worked at three different beaches (La Boquita, Jiquilillo, & Poneloya) spread across the entirety of the country’s pacific coast. It was quite an adventure and we were very busy during the four day Holiday weekend. Though the beach crowds had still not recovered from last years seismic scares (there was also a small earthquake during the Holiday this year) there was plenty of work to be done.

Here are the Project Nicaragua 2015 Stats:

  • 17 ISLA Volunteers
  • 840 Preventions
  • 43 Rescues
  • 28 Medical calls
  • 820 Total Hours Guarded (including CRN members on our teams)

Lifeguard Tower Nicaragua

Some highlights of the trip included: a large abandoned sailboat coming ashore in the middle of the night and consequently causing a major hazard with the tide the next day, broken bones due to shore break waves, and successful resuscitation of drowning victims on the beach. No drowning deaths were recorded at any of the beaches where our ISLA volunteers were stationed. ISLA veteran and “C” Team (jiquillo) Leader Dave Wager said: “To be able to share a life changing experience with someone makes you more than friends…it makes you family. For me that’s what ISLA is all about. Expanding your lifesaving family!”

Great job ISLA Guards!!! This year’s Project Nicaragua volunteers were:

Chris Angelotti – Oceanside, CA
Donny Constransitch – North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue, SC
Nicole Emmerson – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Alexis Fender – ISLA, U.S.A.
Natalie Foley – Sandy Beach Association, MA
Bryce Green – Nags Head Ocean Rescue, NC
William Koon – Huntington State Beach (California State Parks), CA
Vasilli Pleqi – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Joe Perez – ISLA, Dominican Republic
Angela Ray – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Henry Reyes – Huntington City Beach Lifeguards/Santa Monica Harbor Patrol, CA
Nicholas Schriver – East Bay Regional Park Dist. Fire Department/Lifeguard Service, CA
Justin Sempstrot – Lifeguards Without Borders & Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
David Wagner – Huntington City Beach, CA
Hannah Wrenn – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Nanz Zekela – ISLA, U.S.A.
Rachael Zielman – Surf Life Saving Australia, NSW

Project Nicaragua

But, even with all the good work done by ISLA volunteers and their Nicaraguan counterparts, there were 34 deaths by drowning during the 4-day Semana Santa holiday celebration this year. This statistic reinforces the need for additional lifesaving personnel, equipment, and training needed in Nicaragua. According to Maritza Vargas, Chief lifeguard of the Nicaraguan Red Cross, “The Nicaraguan Red Cross attended to 13 of the drowning victims who had found their way to ditches, lakes, and Chanel’s that are part of the countries water shed system but we’re unsuccessful in saving their lives. The additional twenty one individuals who drowned were individuals who unfortunately did not heed the recommendations because they were drunk.”