CARLSBAD (KGTV): Now in its second summer, a program to put lifeguards on the northern beach in Carlsbad is expanding.
The Carlsbad Fire Department hired 25 part-time lifeguards to protect the beach from Carlsbad Village Drive to the border with Oceanside. They also use two full-time fire department employees who have full paramedic training.
Every day, they have at least four people on the one-mile stretch, staffing two towers.
"This summer we’re trying to create a little more of an official presence," says Fire Captain Nate Pearson. "We want to make the lifeguards more accessible to the public."
To do that, the Fire Department built two new towers for the beach. Those replace temporary sand towers they used last summer.
The extra staff and visibility are working. Already this year, they've performed more than 300 rescues. By comparison, they had 355 recuses all of last summer. Pearson says none of the people they've rescued this summer have needed to be hospitalized. He credits his staff and their ability to respond quickly to emergencies for that success.
The lifeguards have also done 15,000 "preventative actions" this summer. Those are mainly face to face warnings and conversations to people on the beach and in the water. Pearson says those have skyrocketed this summer as the lifeguards spend more time on the beach.
"Clearly there’s a daily need to have lifeguards down here providing feedback to the community about where its safe to swim, when it’s safe to swim and recognizing those situations that are going to create problems down the road," he says.
The City of Carlsbad budgeted $350,000 for the program this summer. They plan to meet in October to review it and decide if they want it to continue.