MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Memorial Day is coming and so is the unofficial start to summer.
It’s likely to be a busy one along the Grand Strand. Beach rescue crews are gearing up to ensure they can keep tourists safe.
“We’re looking at historic numbers of tourists and then we’re also looking at shortages in employees across the Grand Strand,” General Manager of Lack’s Beach Service Weslyn Lack-Chickering said.
Lack’s is one of two companies the city of Myrtle Beach has contracts with to provide lifeguarding services on the beach.
“We have changed how we do things a little bit,” Lack-Chickering said “We’ve separated our lifeguards from our beach attendants so we’ll have ‘lifeguard onlys,’ who their sole purpose is to watch the water.”
“They’re not going to be distracted by any kind of rentals so that allows them to cover a little more space,” Lack-Chickering continued.
The company has had to get creative with staffing this season, because of a lack of J-1 students, a group it typically relies heavily on.
“Recruited college swim teams, college swim clubs,” Lack-Chickering said. “We’ve actually traveled to different universities to recruit.”
She said her staff is ready for the season and that it will be all hands on deck Memorial Day weekend.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department (MBFD) is increasing its beach patrol units starting Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
“Going from three patrols to four patrols as we have in the past,” Captain Jonathan Evans with MBFD said. “It just seems to a good number for us- not too many, not too little. We obviously have more people coming this weekend and the rest of the summer.”
The units are able to help with medical calls on the beach and help ensure other resources aren’t unnecessarily tied up.
“It’s just also harder for us to sometimes get on the beach,” Captain Evans said. “So if we already have crews on the beach it makes it easier for us to mitigate the situations and get that care started.”