Reporting Gigi Barnett
OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ)—They risk their lives making sure swimmers stay safe this holiday weekend. They’re members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Gigi Barnett explains unseasonably warm weather and an inviting surf has already led to several rescues.
From the moment they hit the stands, it is a good morning on the Ocean City beach. For visitors it’s going to be a safe one, as well.
Nothing about this job is easy. Lifeguards are constantly on alert and the training seems endless.
“In Ocean City, we really have two seasons. We have summer and getting ready for summer. We’re used to it,” said Lt. Ward Kovacs, Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Kovacs is in charge of that training. Of his 180 staff members, many are college students on summer break, who call this a fun job.
“I get excited that I could be the one who’s saving someone’s life. I want to be that person. That’s why I signed up for beach patrol,” said Tyler Baxter, Ocean City lifeguard.
Ocean City Beach Patrol doesn’t officially hit the stands until this holiday weekend. But last week, rescue workers pulled five people out of the water. One of them was a 13-year-old girl.
“We had one that was so far out, we had to send the Coast Guard boat out to get ‘em over 500 yards off shore,” Kovacs said.
And after much hard work preparing for swimmers, the summer season is about to heat up.
“That’s my favorite time of the year, just to watch it all come to fruition as the guards take the stands for the first time of the year,” Kovacs said.
Ocean City Beach Patrol says it has one request of swimmers: keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard is in the stand.