Tybee Ocean Rescue hoping for more lifeguard applications

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 2:58 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2022 at 4:38 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island’s beach will be packed with people soon and the lifeguard division is already getting ready.

Tybee Ocean Rescue is eager to see more applications rolling in for the busy season ahead.

Since last year, the lifeguard division has had some big changes including a new building and management.

These changes are some of what staff say they hope entices people to choose Tybee as the place where they want to work.

“The more red swimming trunks you see, the more safe they’re going to feel,” Capt. Matt Bowen said. “We’re expecting a very busy season, very high population on the beach.”

With that said, a fully-staffed lifeguard division is key.

“In order to get returners coming back and to entice new guards into coming in, we’ve kind of separated from the fire department as far as we’ve got our own space now with the opening of the south annex and we’ve got our own treatment facility here,” Bowen said.

Bowen, who will now oversee the lifeguards, says they’ve worked hard to create more structure within the program.

He says one of the biggest changes is the new building. It’s equipped with a new treatment facility that, Bowen says, will be crucial.

“The treatment facility will be able to handle anything from basic, you know, ‘I need a band aid’ or ‘I got stung by a jellyfish,’ very small level acuity calls. All the way up to the most critical calls such as CPRs in progress things of that extent,” he said.

Prior to having the treatment facility, Bowen says they’d often handle calls out on the beach. He says this was hard as they’d be trying to treat and manage the crowd at the same time.

“Bring those folks away from the beach, away from the crowds and get them in this controlled environment and be able to treat much safer and much more easily,” he said.

Bowen says they hope to have 30 or more people on staff this year to have more eyes on the water.

“We’re aiming for two guards per tower at a minimum staffing this year. If we can, we’re also going to jump those numbers up maybe do three per tower and two additional rovers on the beach.”

Bowen says the lifeguard hiring process has two phases. Right now, they’re in phase one - doing run/swim tests to get certified. By April, they’ll begin ocean rescue training. Bowen says so far 16 people have applied, which is about halfway to their goal.

“They’ve been told about how much fun it is actually to be on the beach lifeguarding and just helping the community.”

Bowen says if you or someone you know is interested in applying, one of the only qualifications is that you have to be 17 years old or older. You can find information on how to apply and the application itself on the city’s website.

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