Manpower Needed

 Manpower Needed

By Kailey Aiken

Another week on the beach has come and gone, and things have been fairly calm in Rockaway. School is still in session, the water is still very cold, and we haven’t been hit by a heat wave yet. Once those three factors change, I’m sure I’ll be writing a very different opening. The days of the week are starting to blend together, and it feels a bit like we’re reliving the same one over and over again, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ll all be missing these easy June days after peak beach season starts up.

There’s a rumor floating around Rockaway that no new lifeguards taking the course in Chelsea right now will be sent to Rockaway. Allegedly they will all be sent to Coney Island. No one is quite sure how much substance there is to this rumor, but we’re all hoping it’s not true. Many shacks have only a few of their chairs open so far, and once July hits, more chairs will have to be added, whether we receive new lifeguards or not. Obviously, this will be very difficult to do if we are not sent any lifeguards at all.

Having a low number of lifeguards on a beach, especially a busy beach, can become very dangerous when we have a case (rescue) involving multiple people. On Friday, at 97 shack, we had two cases at the same time with a total of six victims. Since we only have four chairs and typically have two people to each chair, the beach was basically stripped and whoever was left on the sand had to start calling people out of the water because there were not enough lifeguards for proper surveillance. In the water, lifeguards had to bring four of the victims around the rock jetty on Beach 98th Street to get out of the rip current. A surfer with a beater board helped swim the victims around the rocks.

The pull of the rip was so strong and there were so many people out there that we had to bring the reel out to pull the victims and lifeguards in on the uptown side of the jetty. Luckily the EMS workers were able to assist us in pulling the reel since we were so short on guards.

Everyone returned safely to shore, but situations like this are much more difficult to deal with when there are so few lifeguards working.

As far as I know, lifeguards in Rockaway are allocated based on the amount of space that needs to be covered. The location, crowds, and number of cases each shack experiences are barely taken into account. This means that an empty stretch of beach and a completely packed one of the same size are supposed to receive the same number of lifeguards, which can be inefficient and dangerous at times. This system has been in place for a while and I doubt it’ll change any time soon, but there has to be a better way to cover our beaches.

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