Our Beach Patrol will return to duty beginning on Saturday, March 9, 2019. For the third year in a row, the Town of Seabrook Island has contracted with Island Beach Services to provide trained professionals to keep beachgoers safe and to enforce the Town’s ordinances.
In March, patrols will be on duty weekends-only with one vehicle. Between March 31 and September 3, there will be daily coverage, with four lifeguards using two vehicles for their overlapping 8:00 am – 4:00 pm and 12 noon – 8:00 pm shifts. For the remaining weeks in September, coverage returns to weekend patrols by a single vehicle.
The Beach Patrol uses fully equipped trucks with uniformed lifeguards. At least one Beach Patrol member who has been deputized as a Town Code Enforcement Officer will be on the beach at all times. The Code Enforcement Officers are authorized to issue citations for Beach Ordinance violations such as off-leash dogs, use of glass bottles, beached watercraft, or having a vehicle on the beach. The officers almost always give warnings first, because most people are unaware of the offenses. If a second ticket is written for the same violation, it might result in a fine that can be substantial. In general, most beachgoers heed the warnings. Code Enforcement Officers issued only three citations during the 2018 season.
The lifeguard’s job involves much more than driving down the beach. These individuals are highly trained. They must be certified yearly by the US Lifesaving Association (which involves completing a 40-hour class) and must also be certified as an Emergency Medical Responder. They have extensive training on all of the equipment at their disposal. The truck carries a Rescue Paddleboard, lifesaving buoys, oxygen, and an Automatic External Defibrillator. In addition, a Rescue Water Craft (Jet Ski) equipped with a rescue sled that is towed behind it, is stationed on the beach. If you see the lifeguards in the water with this equipment, it might be because they are having their weekly water practice—a requirement for the position.
While the tasks performed are varied, the Beach Patrol’s focus is to ensure safety for everyone on the beach. To this end, they can be found rescuing distressed swimmers, warning swimmers when there is a shark in the water, reminding fishermen to move if they are too close to swimmers, making sure dogs and people do not disturb nesting environments, and providing first aid and treatment for jellyfish stings.
Seabrook Island’s Beach Patrol works closely with the Coast Guard, St Johns Fire Department, Seabrook Island’s Turtle Patrol, Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network representatives, and also Kiawah Beach Services. They will call 911 if they witness an emergency situation. If a call goes to 911 for water assistance, our patrol gets the call at the same time and the supervisor goes into action. If warranted, our Rescue Water Craft is launched and Kiawah is notified to launch theirs as well in case backup is needed.
Beach Patrol members want to be seen as friendly, helpful and ready to assist when needed in order to make the beach a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Seabrook Island is fortunate to have such well-trained lifeguards on our beaches. The Beach Patrol reports to Joe Cronin, Town Administrator, and provides him with a weekly status report of their activities. Funding for Beach Patrol services comes from the Accommodations Tax funds that the Town receives from the State and Charleston County.
– Tidelines Editors, with many thanks for Sue Holloman’s research