Reporting Gigi Barnett
OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — As thousands flocked to Ocean City for the Memorial Day weekend, it’s the sun and sand that draw them. The Ocean City Beach Patrol is there to watch.
Gigi Barnett reports the Beach Patrol’s message is safety first.
Long before the swimmers arrive and the unofficial start of summer begins, Ocean City lifeguards are already on duty.
It’s round-the-clock hard-core training designed to save lives, and only those in top physical and mental shape need apply.
“Don’t give up. Just keep going. No matter how tired you are, no matter how bad it hurts, just keep going,” said Leah Palmer, Ocean City lifeguard.
“It’s very much about being comfortable in the water,” said Sgt. Jaime Falcon.
Falcon’s staff hand-selects each lifeguard. Many of them are on summer break from college. He says Memorial Day weekend is the final test to tell who can save lives.
“Part of what goes on this week is a weeding out process to make sure we’ve accomplished that before sending them to the chair,” said Falcon.
Ocean City lifeguards patrol 10 miles of beach, and there are 87 stands on the beach. At all hours of the day, each one needs to have a lifeguard in it.
“It can go from so, so calm and it just changes in an instant. And tiny little rip currents can open up,” said one lifeguard.
But it’s the life support skills that may matter most, especially on a holiday weekend.
The Ocean City Beach Patrol says it needs guards to watch the shore well into September, so, it will host a mid-summer tryout in June.