VB lifeguards prepare for beaches to reopen for Memorial Day weekend

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the City of Virginia Beach prepares to reopen beaches this Friday, the lifeguards who patrol those beaches are ready for the visitors to return.

Last weekend was the first time lifeguards returned to their stands in Virginia Beach this year. They came armed with extra equipment to protect themselves and others amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from the normal red first aid pack each lifeguard traditionally carries, they’re now adding a blue pack filled with masks, sanitizer and soap.

“There’s also sanitizer in all the ATVs, so again, anytime somebody has that interaction, for example a buoy was used in a rescue, it’s going to get sprayed down,” said Tom Gill, who is with the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service.

Gill says the lifeguards will stick to their duty of watching the water for distressed swimmers. Enforcing social distancing rules on the beach will be left to the new beach ambassadors the city created for that specific purpose.

“We really appreciate them bringing extra resources out to handle that side of things so we can do our job,” said Gill.  

Gill says his team is as prepared as they can be to do their job while staying safe from the virus.

They’ve put together a nine-page operational update to cover daily procedures for all the employees. Gill says those procedures are constantly updated and changed to adapt to the circumstances of the moment.

And with so much public focus of sanitizing and social distancing, Gill wants to remind beachgoers not to forget those hazards that always exist when visiting the ocean.

“If the red flags are flying, know the conditions, know your swimming ability, all the things we typically talk about before Memorial Day,” said Gill. “We spent a lot of time talking about COVID precautions. Don’t forget the rip current are still there.”  

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