Gloucester, as well as other communities, faced a shortage of certified lifeguards for summer 2015 and wages was not the issue. This was recognized very early in the preparation for beach season. We advertised aggressively, but simply could not attract a large enough pool of guards. In mid-July Plum Cove and Niles Beach were posted No Guard on Duty. These are smaller beaches with little wave action and limited guard action. Good Harbor and Wingaersheek Beaches are extremely busy and these beaches must be staffed. Typical calls for traditional first aid, dehydration, reactions to medication and the sun, lost children, alcohol intoxication as well as water rescues are common every day.
With a shortage of guards in past years we have temporarily supplemented guard staff with EMTs from the Gloucester Fire Department. During extreme tides, rip currents or larger than normal waves – we have always looked to Public Safety for support.
The supplemental hires are used on busy weekends or weekdays, late in the season, when high school or college-age guards have gone back to school. The lifeguard continue with water rescues and traditional guard duties and the EMTs provide medical attention to those in need. The EMTs are not acting as guards – but freeing the guards up so they can continue to keep their eyes on the water. The sheer volume of beachgoers requires a full staff trained in all forms of medical first response.
The Gloucester Fire Department response frequently to beaches to aid lifeguards – even when fully staffed with guards.
With the shortage of guards, it is appropriate and responsible to provide a safe beach for residents and guests.
During major events city-wide, EMT personnel from the FD are used as first responders. The funding to cover the EMTs is out of the line item used to pay the guards. With less guards, we have funding available.
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken
City of Gloucester
Nine Dale Avenue
Gloucester, MA. 01930