Ocean City Beach Patrol Reports Busy Labor Day Weekend; 230 Water Rescues Recorded Sunday

Ocean City Beach Patrol Reports Busy Labor Day Weekend; 230 Water Rescues Recorded Sunday
Rough ocean conditions and strong rip currents resulted in more than 400 water rescues over Labor Day weekend. Above, a picture taken Sunday shows a busy beach. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Rough ocean conditions and strong rip current activity led to a busy Labor Day weekend for the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

On Sunday, the Ocean City Beach Patrol recorded 230 water rescues with nine EMS requests and a couple aviation transports, resulting in a public alert being issued reminding swimmers to not go in the ocean beyond knee depth and to enter the water in front of a lifeguard.

“Check in with the guard and ask about conditions,” Capt. Butch Arbin reminded beachgoers this week. “Swim in front of the guard, especially now that we are spread out. Only swim when we are on duty!”

Throughout Labor Day weekend, the beach patrol reported having 472 rescues, with 152 occurring on Saturday, 230 occurring on Sunday and 90 occurring on Monday. Arbin also highlighted medical calls that were made throughout the holiday weekend.

“We did have a few medical calls. Mostly impact injury from shore break,” he explained, “waves that break on the beach with force and cause injuries such as dislocated shoulders.”

During a Mayor and Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Rick Meehan publicly recognized the Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguards for their efforts over Labor Day weekend. He said a report from Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald indicated there were 34 lifeguard stands and 15 quads covering 10 miles of beach over the weekend. He said despite reduced staffing levels, guards were able to keep beachgoers safe under extreme conditions.

“It was truly a challenge for everybody, and I think we knew that,” Meehan said. “They sent out messages that were alerts. I did some interviews and videos about the conditions and asking people to swim near a lifeguard, modify their swimming, let them know rules would be modified and to be careful and safe on the beach. The message doesn’t always get across to everybody, and people are here on vacation. So it was the men and women of the beach patrol that stepped up.”

Meehan ultimately commended the Ocean City Beach Patrol for a successful summer season.

“To see them communicating with the public, doing their job and working together as teams with those on quads, it’s really amazing how they’ve been able to do what they’ve done this past summer, especially this past weekend,” he said. “I know all our residents and visitors appreciate them.”

Arbin noted that while the beach will continue to be covered through the end of September, there will be fewer lifeguards – or surf rescue technicians (SRTs) – on duty.

“We are always seeing a decrease in staff at this time of year due to our staff returning to other obligations (mostly college) …,” he said Tuesday. “We have fewer stands today than yesterday and will have guards on until Sept 24th.”

Arbin added that the beach patrol uses all available lifeguards and continues to offer incentives – such as travel stipends and loyalty bonuses – that encourage guards to return on weekends.

“Fall guarding is different from guarding during the summer months and it comes with challenges,” a Facebook post from the Ocean City Beach Patrol reads. “We are in a reduced coverage mode with fewer lifeguard towers and SRTs patrolling the beach. To aid the SRT make sure to walk the short distance to the nearest lifeguard stand and check in with the SRT.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.