Myrtle Beach City Council discusses moving away from dual-responsibility lifeguard roles

Currently, lifeguards not only patrol the beaches but they also rent out beach equipment.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:53 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As we get closer to the summer months, Myrtle Beach leaders are now looking to take a few things off lifeguards’ plates in order to keep you safer on the beach.

The conversation of Myrtle Beach lifeguards having dual roles is something first responders have brought up when it comes to beach safety and it’s something now on the table for Myrtle Beach City Council.

Currently, the city uses two outside companies John’s Beach Services and Lack’s Beach Services to keep beachgoers safe.

The lifeguards employed are responsible for both patrolling the beach and renting out equipment.

The Myrtle Beach Fire Department’s Ocean Rescue Team Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell they’re looking to change that.

“We’re recommending that the lifeguard beach services get away from the dual responsibility,” he said.

Instead of both patrolling and renting out equipment, Myrtle Beach Fire and Police Departments offered up five options for the city council to consider during a workshop meeting.

Those include keeping the current dual-role plan in place, getting rid of the dual responsibilities, and having lifeguards patrolling, separate from lifeguards who sell equipment.

“USLA [United States Lifesaving Association] national standards recommend that the lifeguards have only water surveillance and do no other commercial activities,” said Chief Mitchell. other recommendations included ending those outside agreements and having the city take over And hire its own lifeguards, and even removing lifeguards from city beaches entirely.

While Chief Mitchell does not want to see lifeguards removed, he does want to see them in a more specific role.

“I think it’s just a step the city needs to take at this time to provide the water safety and the beach franchises to all work together and see that ability to move forward,” he said.

WMBF News made attempts to speak with both life-guarding companies Myrtle Beach uses, but they declined to comment.

The Myrtle Beach City Council will now consider those options on the table during their next meeting Tuesday.