New lifeguard station sets up in residential area - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

New lifeguard station sets up in residential area

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Beachgoers were surprised by a new lifeguard station in a residential area Wednesday. The station, with several umbrellas, was set up at the 79th Avenue Beach access after lifeguards say the area was getting too busy. 

Lifeguards with the Myrtle Beach Lifeguards Service say they had no problem seeing the importance of a lifeguard being added at 79th Avenue North, and the city agreed. But some beachgoers were simply caught off-guard.

Jeanette Hussy says she was "kind of surprised. I was down here a couple of weeks ago, and he wasn't here.”

The Myrtle Beach Lifeguard’s Service used to end at 77th Avenue North, and many see it as a natural divide between tourist areas, where hotels, residential areas, and people are. Since adding one at 79th Avenue North, City Spokesman Mark Kruea says there have been several complaints, but  five-year veteran lifeguard, Denny Starr, can't say he sees why.

"I think it's good for everyone, whether they know it or not,” Starr says. “I mean at the end of the day, safety is most important, so another guard in a stretch where there's no guards, I think is a good thing."

"Well I like the idea of the protection of a lifeguard being here, but like I said, we've been here 15 to 20 years and never had one," Hussey explains. 

Starr mans what used to be the last access at 77th Avenue North, and says he's noticed the beach get busier and busier further up, almost out of his line of sight, which is why he feels the new lifeguard station is important for swimmer safety.

Some were also surprised to see the umbrella rentals, but Starr says they are actually a key part of keeping swimmers safe.

"It saves the city from I guess having to pay anyone, and then it generates income to pay for the water safety program," Starr says.

While some worry this could be a distraction, Starr says they do a bulk of the work and set up the umbrellas before they even start their shift.

"We're constantly watching the water, you're going to talk to people either way, whether you're renting them an umbrella, or you're just talking to people at the beach, that's part of being a lifeguard," Starr says. He adds that all their lifeguards require Red Cross training, as well as weekly in service training.

On Wednesday afternoon, the new lifeguard at 79th Avenue kept his eyes on the water, especially because no one was using the umbrellas.

"The residents that live and come here - they all have their own chairs and umbrellas, we bring them all down here so, I don't know how much business he will get from the chair and umbrella rentals really," Hussey says.

While she doesn't have a problem with the new lifeguard watching over their favorite stretch of beach, Hussey just hopes the new setup doesn't ruin the solitude that keeps her and her family coming back  year after year.

Lifeguards say some surfers haven't been happy to see them either, but they will continue to let them surf between lifeguard stations as long as they stay away from swimmers.

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