The child cried and the father waited for the alcohol to evaporate. “Drama”

– Once the police found a few years old on the beach. My father heard the information through a megaphone, but fled to the summer house to evaporate the blood alcohol – says Dawid Góra, journalist from WP SportoweFakty and the author of the book “WOPR. Życie na ratunek”.

Dariusz Faron

Dawid Gora

Press material / Michał Puchała / In the photo: Dawid Góra

Dariusz Faron, WP SportoweFakty: Why a book on WOPR?

Dawid Góra, deputy editor-in-chief of WP SportoweFakty, journalist, author of the book “WOPR. Życie na ratunek”: There are already books about paramedics, police officers, TOPR and so on. And about WOPR – silence. I felt like these people were being left out, which is very unfair because they are doing extremely important work.

The second reason is very prosaic. I came into contact with this group while preparing texts for Wirtualna Polska about relaxing by the water. It was great for me to talk to the lifeguards. I was happy with their openness and how they talk about their work. They felt the need to share these stories. The actions are often very short, but there are enough emotions that make the book a good thriller. I wanted to show the rescuers that someone remembers them and appreciates their work.

And the third reason – if, of all readers, even one person will be more careful with the water, which can save her life or the life of her relatives – I will consider it a success.

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You said lifeguards are being bypassed. What is exclusion?

We only remember them in the summer and there are services all year round, such as the Masurian Volunteer Rescue Service or the Sea Search and Rescue Service. When I heard from MOPR people how much they earn, I was shocked. The manager has PLN 2,400 on hand and the others get PLN 2,200. They work full time. In 2021, thanks to the state grant, they earned a little more than PLN 3,000, but that is temporary. The money spent on rescue is definitely too small.

The book is advertised with the sentence: “The thriller makers may not have enough imagination to film what happened in Polish waters in recent years”. Tell the stories you remember the most.

SAR action. Two Englishmen and Poles are sailing on a yacht. The weather turned bad, they sent out a “mayday” signal. Only the helicopter was unable to shoot them down due to adverse weather conditions. Meanwhile, two people had been washed away from the yacht by the wave and remained in the water for several hours. The services came to the rescue. The action was commanded by Arkadiusz Puchacz. People were taken off the yacht, but the other two were still in the water. After some time, a military light aircraft took off. She saw them and let the SAR know where the victims were. She led the rescuers. When they reached the victims, they were shocked. They were cold, but alive. When the tide ebbed, rescuers quickly pulled the two to the deck. It is truly a miracle that they were saved. And this is a miracle, perhaps in the literal sense of the word. One of the rescued sailors, a declared atheist, immediately fell…on his knees and began to pray. It proves with what emotions this action was accompanied and how tragically the whole event could have ended.

Lifeguard Przemysław Regulski told you: “I remember the faces of almost all the dead.” This work must be very taxing on the head.

Many rescuers who failed to save someone in one of their first actions leave the profession. They can’t stand it. Then you think at night whether you really did everything you could. It works on their psyche. One of the rescuers told me that every person who dies in the water is a pebble that accumulates somewhere in their head. Over time, the hill gets bigger and bigger. I spent a long time talking with Przemek about the most difficult aspect of the job, which is dealing with death. He was a lifeguard and a medical rescuer, he worked in the coronavirus ward. He valued life as much as he could have lost it himself.

Will you tell?

Once, on the beach in Władysławowo, he saw a drowning man. He set course for action on the rope. Friends on the beach had to roll it up when Przemek caught the victim. While he was at sea, he suddenly felt something that dragged him to the bottom. Is the rope stuck? It is not known. Przemek couldn’t get out. The thought flashed through my mind that this was his last act. It turned out that some of the heroes of the beach also decided to save, but they themselves began to sink. They save themselves by taking Przemek’s rope. He survived, but discovered for himself how fragile life is. He repeated that he was surprised why people did not respect this life so much.

Why are you talking about him in the past tense?

On the day I handed over the book for printing, I learned that Przemek was dead. I don’t want to go into details. The whole community in Poland was very upset. When I was collecting material for the report, I even asked him if he imagined his own death. He answered yes. “I hope that the family will not suffer for a long time. For example, I would not want to suffer from an illness.” Now I paraphrase his words. He was always smiling, kind and nice. He spoke beautifully and vividly about his work. He has helped many people. This book is a tribute to him.

The fire divers once told me that people go for the body the most. How’s WOPR going?

Remember that lifeguards in Poland are not just WOPR, although they all stem from it in a very simplified way.

And to answer your question – it’s a little different with them than with divers. A lifeguard, as the name suggests, is primarily to save lives. The range of tasks is very broad. Many of them work as rescuers in the city and suddenly get a signal that someone is drowning. Also, for example, they go to people standing on the edge of a bridge and thinking about committing suicide. In addition, sunken ships, accidents on rivers, prevention…

You have already quoted Przemysław Regulski that we do not respect life very much.

Radosław Wiśniewski of MOPR once told me that when Poles get ready for a vacation, they usually forget to pack their brains. Alcohol prevails, it is the main cause of the tragedy on the water. It increases our bravado and diminishes the sense of responsibility. We think we can do more than we really can. Lifeguards told me about anesthesia, among other things. They drag the dead man ashore and two meters away the vacationers are spread out with a screen. Sunbathing, sunshine, beer, music. They don’t mind having a corpse right under their noses. Another drawer are the stories about caring for children by the sea.

I’m listening.

There are indeed plenty of them. Once the police found a few years old and announced it through a megaphone. They walked along the beach, but no one came forward. An hour later my father showed up. They asked why it was so late, and the guest was lost in explanation. He appeared to have had a little drink. He went to the cottage, ate something, rested. He already knew he had lost the child and must have heard the announcements from the megaphone. He probably thought that if he filed a report, the police would check his sobriety. The most important thing for him was not to put him behind bars and not a crying, scared child. The boy wondered if his father would ever find him, and his father waited for the blood alcohol to evaporate. Drama. Anyone with a child will perfectly understand what I felt when I heard this story.

Dariusz Faron

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