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Staffing, funding prevent city lifeguards from being everywhere to patrol beaches

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 19:33:22-04

Area beaches will be packed during the hot summer months. And as we’ve seen recently, they can be dangerous.

So where do lifeguards come in?

The only beaches where you’ll find lifeguard stands are city beaches.

That means several popular beach hangouts won’t have lifeguards on duty. And today, we spoke with city lifeguards about what this means for you and your family’s safety when you head out to the beach.

Heavy rip currents and extreme high tide pose a potentially dangerous threat to our area beaches. And lifeguards employed by the City of Corpus Christi can only cover so much ground.

“One of the drownings that we had Memorial Day weekend, that actually occurred beyond our normal patrol route,” senior lifeguard Chris Veit said. “And we tend to kind of focus on our centralized beach where we have all of our stands up because those are more highly populated.”

City lifeguards operate out of stands and ground patrol trucks on the stretch of beach between J.P. Luby and Whitecap Boulevard.

It means that state and national parks like the Padre Island Seashore do not have lifeguards on duty.

However, Veit says city lifeguards do send backup to those areas if dispatched.

“Whether it be just a jellyfish sting or anything as bad as an open water drowning,” Veit said.

In light of those recent drownings, some beachgoers have asked why there weren’t lifeguards present.

Veit says it comes down to both staffing and funding.

“If it were possible, we could have a stand at every beach marker, but it really comes down to our availability and how many guards we are able to hire and bring on and afford,” he said.

Lifeguards say they to be mindful of the beach flag system.

Today, yellow flags were flying, meaning that only experienced swimmers should be out in the deeper parts of the surf.