FENWICK ISLAND – The town’s unique practice of offering transport onto the beach for those in need continued to increase in popularity in 2016.
For the fourth summer in a row, the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol offered special assistance to those with disabilities or other injuries that left them unable to access the beach on their own. With the town’s side-by-side all-terrain vehicle the beach patrol was able to transport 650 individuals over the dune and onto the beach.
“The numbers increase every year,” said Tim Ferry, captain of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. “It’s become very popular.”
In his last report to the town council, Ferry said that in spite of some mechanical difficulties with the vehicle, the beach patrol had still helped 650 people access the beach. That number increased from roughly 400 people last year.
“It’s obviously a very popular service,” Ferry said. “I think it’s something we should continue to do. It’s community building.”
Councilmember Julie Lee praised the practice.
“It’s more than community building,” she said. “It’s really become essential for some long-time residents.”
Ferry said the beach patrol inadvertently created the transport service several years ago when they used a basic ATV to help a senior citizen access the beach.
“We started assisting some elderly people on the quad and it developed into this,” Ferry said.
The town was able to purchase an ATV with a two-person cab and flat bed.
“The technical term is side-by-side vehicle,” Ferry said. “It’s a mix between a golf cart and a gator. It has a flat bed in back and a bench seat. It works really well on the beach.”
While the transport was initially used by the elderly, as the town’s dunes have increased in size in recent years it has also proved useful to those with injuries or disabilities. It’s also used by the beach patrol to transport injured beachgoers.
“It’s very multi-faceted,” Ferry said.
And while requests for transport onto the beach have increased each year, Ferry says people are not abusing the service. He says the beach patrol has received letters from numerous people grateful for the opportunity the service provided. One person was able to go to the beach for the first time in 40 years because of the side-by-side vehicle. Another man was able to take his adult son who was dying of cancer to the water’s edge.
“They’re just great stories,” Ferry said.
He says he has the staff to offer the service and the side-by-side vehicle would be used by the beach patrol even if it didn’t offer the transport service. By helping patrons reach the beach, however, Ferry and his staff are going an extra step for the community.
“It’s just something we’ve been able to provide,” he said.
For information on the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol visit fenwickisland.delaware.gov.