North Myrtle Beach looks to combat lifeguard shortage, adds new tool to keep beachgoers safe

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:56 AM EST
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Businesses and agencies across the country have been facing shortages, including lifeguards that keep families safe while visiting North Myrtle Beach.

Over the past few years, there has been a decline in lifeguards.

“Unfortunately, due to Covid and the past several years, we’ve seen a reduction in our numbers,” said LCpl. Monty Reed with the North Myrtle Beach Patrol. “2020 was our lowest and then we had about 77 last year, and we would hope to get closer to 100 this year.”

MORE INFORMATION | Apply to be a lifeguard with North Myrtle Beach

To entice people to join the North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue lifeguard team, the city has increased the lifeguard pay. For the upcoming season, tower lifeguards will earn $15-$17/hr. while supervisor lifeguards will earn $17-$19/hr.

The lifeguards patrolling the beach will assist with a variety of tasks from first aid and water rescues to helping lost children find their families on a busy day. They work from May through October.

“Basically, when you have five to 5.5 million people a year visiting just our beach alone, your best and last defense against that ocean is those lifeguards,” said Reed.

They’re adding three new, taller lifeguard towers that will allow lifeguards a wider view of what’s going on down on the beach, they’re implementing a dispatch system for lifeguards and they are also adding a public dashboard through a QR code that will be on all the lifeguard stands.

“(It’s going to) tell the individual what color flags we are having that day, what our surf conditions are, it’s going to tell them what the tide times are, and it’s going to tell them where the lifeguards are on duty,” said Reed. “So, if we have a tower closed due to staffing, they are going to know it. All they have to do is scan that QR code and it’s going to provide them with all the important information on the beach they need to know.”

There are multiple requirements to become a lifeguard.

These include:

  • Must be 16 years old
  • Ability to swim 500 meters in 10 minutes or less
  • Attend Beach Patrol Lifeguard Academy
  • Successfully complete the beach patrol’s 70-hour Lifeguard Academy class and receive certification as a lifeguard and in CPR, first aid, and AED (this will be taught during the Lifeguard Training Academy)

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