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Lifeguards ready for strong summer season on Santa Barbara beaches

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The start of summer along with a June warming trend will bring thousands of people to the Santa Barbara waterfront daily. That will no doubt make it a challenging season for lifeguards.

The city of Santa Barbara provides daily ocean lifeguard services from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach.

The city says all Ocean Lifeguards are United States Life Saving Association trained with Professional Rescuer CPR and Advanced First Aid training.

Santa Barbara City Aquatics Supervisor Tony Sholl says, "we've have enough interest to over hire our beach lifeguards as well as our junior lifeguard instructors and it pretty much hit the mark with our pool lifeguards."

He spoke in front of the Cabrillo Pavilion at East Beach where teams of  kids were involved in the junior lifeguard camps.

"In order to be a junior lifeguard instructor you've got to become a beach lifeguard first, an open water lifeguard, and meet all those requirements," said Sholl. He also said you have to be kid-friendly and have good people skills.

A mom and her son from Utah were visiting and enjoying all the action.

Brenda Jensen said, "what a neat thing to sign your kid up to do. A good life skill and being a first responder and helping people."
For the instructors it's a solid summer job.

"Oh my gosh yeah, super rewarding," said Sholl. "The instructors once they become an instructor,  they stay an instructor,  as long as they can."

In addition to what we see in the way of people using the waterfront on the weekdays,  on the weekends  thousands of people come here and it's extremely challenging for the lifeguards with spots filled up on the beach  and in the near shore waters from East Beach to the edge of Shoreline park.

To find the safest spot, Jensen said, "we usually like to find the tower and then go to the right or the left," to be in good view of the lifeguard.
It can also be a sensory overload for the lifeguards when thousands of people are around.

"We'll give more breaks.  We will have relief guards going up and down to give that much needed down time to take  a brain break," said Sholl.

In addition to rescues, they work closely with the Harbor Patrol, police, fire, AMR and the Coast Guard as they watch over everyone in sight.

"Regardless if its groups of  ocean swimmers who are out here  daily or people who are coming to the beach for the first time," said Sholl.

Tuesday afternoon, about 2 p.m.there was a medical emergency on a boat just outside of the buoy line east of Stearns Wharf.

The lifeguards were among those responding along with the Harbor Patrol. Firefighters and medics were also at Cabrillo Boulevard ready to join if needed as part of their collaboration.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.


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