MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The two companies that supply lifeguards for Myrtle Beach say they’re struggling to find workers while the city faces a record tourism season.
“The number of tourists have been unreal. We have no clue what to expect for July 4 because so far every day has looked like July 4. We are expecting obviously very large crowds and it’ll be all hands on deck but the number of tourists its been absolutely amazing,” said Weslyn Lack-Chickering, the General Manager for Lack’s Beach Service.
Lack-Chickering said like many businesses in the city, they’re running short on staff.
“We have not stopped hiring, we have not stopped looking. Ocean safety is our top priority,” Chickering said.
The problem is being compounded by extremely large crowds on the beaches so far this season, particularly during the recently concluded Carolina Country Music Fest, according to representatives from Lack’s Beach Service and John’s Beach Service.
Chickering said she thinks it’s due to multiple reasons, one being the backlog of J-1 visas that would bring exchange students for the summer.
“A lot of our college kids just didn’t want to work. Unfortunately its a hot work environment, it’s a hard work environment. A lot of them just did not want to work. I personally think it’s an amazing work environment but we really struggled,” Chickering said.
Chickering said they cover from 29th Avenue South to 14th Avenue North in the city limits. She said they normally have a lifeguard at every city block but right now it’s every other city block.
They also have mobile lifeguards on ATV’s and managers in trucks for extra coverage. Chickering said safety has not been compromised.
At all lifeguard posts, they have a lifeguard on duty and someone who handles the rentals.
“It’s still comfortable to come out to the beach because the guards to the left and to the right of me, they watch my water when I’m on break and I do the same for them when they’re on their breaks so you can’t even tell it’s a shortage,” said Gregory Smith, a lifeguard.
Lack’s Beach service is hiring. Information on what it takes and how to apply, can be found on their website here.