Facebook video shows lifeguard asleep at the beach - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Facebook video shows lifeguard asleep at the beach

Facebook video showing the lifeguard asleep at his station.  (Source: Karl Mroch, via Facebook) Facebook video showing the lifeguard asleep at his station. (Source: Karl Mroch, via Facebook)
The lifeguard stares at Mroch after being woken up. (Source: Karl Mroch, via Facebook) The lifeguard stares at Mroch after being woken up. (Source: Karl Mroch, via Facebook)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A lifeguard was apparently asleep on the job in Myrtle Beach, and a Facebook user posted a video of him waking the lifeguard up.

Karl Mroch said he was walking along the beach at about 3 p.m. Sunday when he saw the lifeguard sleeping at around 4th Avenue North. Mroch said he tried saying "hello" to the lifeguard several times before he began recording. The video shows Mroch putting the camera up to the lifeguard, whose eyes are shut. Mroch then appears to tap the lifeguard on the face with his phone. Mroch said the phone slipped out of his hand, which is how it ended up tapping the lifeguard's sunglasses. The lifeguard wakes up and looks at Mroch, who says “Oh, hello!” before ending the recording. Mroch then shared the video on the WMBF News Facebook page.

Mroch said that after he woke the lifeguard, he started telling him it is his job to guard lives. Mroch said the lifeguard tried to defend himself, but Mroch told the lifeguard to look at the word “LIFEGUARD” on his shirt. Mroch told the lifeguard he can’t sleep because he has children he is responsible to look after. Mroch said he then walked away.

George Lack is the owner of Lack’s Beach Service, the company that provides lifeguard services to beaches in Myrtle Beach. He said he will look into the video, and turn it over to a manager to get to the bottom of it, and figure out where they let the system down. If a lifeguard is caught sleeping, they are severely disciplined, if not fired, Lack said. They won’t be able to legally talk specifically about the disciplinary action against this employee.

Like falling asleep at the wheel, it’s terribly dangerous and not acceptable, Lack said, but lifeguards are human. Lack said that instead of wasting time taking a video, Mroch should have immediately woken the lifeguard up, so he had the opportunity to save a life.

Martina Jedlicka, the recruiting and training manager with Lack's Beach Service, said this lifeguard will immediately be taken off the lifeguard stands. As for further disciplinary action, that is a personnel matter they can't discuss.

Jedlicka said this is a very dangerous mistake that is unforgivable. She said they are very disappointed, and there are going to be consequences for this lifeguard. She added this this is the first time anyone with Lack's Beach Service has been caught sleeping.

Temperatures have been so high, and lifeguards are very tired, Jedlicka said, so they are encouraged to get enough sleep and take care of themselves. She said Lack's provides them with water, Gatorade and electrolyte pills to keep them hydrated. They have two 15-minute breaks per day, in addition to a 45-minute lunch break. They are allowed to go for a swim during their breaks, Jedlicka said, which can be helpful on hot days.

Lacks' jurisdiction is divided into four sections in Myrtle Beach, Jedlicka explained. Each section has three supervisors, a medic, and a manager. They will ride along the beach to supervise lifeguards. 

She said Lack's increased the number of supervisors and added off-duty medics three weeks ago to increase supervision on the beach.

All lifeguards get at least one day off per week and can get more if they ask for them, Jedlicka said.

Lifeguards receive two hours of in-service training each week, and the company is really trying to stay on top of that to prevent drownings. 

Tom Gill, of the United States Lifesaving Association, said lifeguards need consistent breaks without working for too long between those breaks. They should stay in the shade to keep cool on hot days. He said if it’s not very busy, music can be advantageous to staying alert.

Gill said lifeguarding is a hard job, so it’s difficult to stay vigilant. However, he said lifeguards themselves need to recognize when they might be having an issue with their focus and ask for a break.

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