Lifeguards face new set of protocols ahead of Memorial Day weekend
Being a lifeguard has all sort of challenges on its own, but in the wake of COVID-19, guards face a new set of difficulties to deal with.
Town of Hempstead lifeguards are adding in several new safety procedures, including being socially distant in their chairs, wearing masks and sanitizing regularly.
If a rescue is initiated, the guard will pull the person to shore, then a pit crew light response will be initiated. Whereas some guards will wear full protective gear, special respirator masks will be used to reduce mouth-to-mouth contact.
Lifeguards will also have to be taken to a decontamination shower after a rescue.
"There won't be any hesitation from the lifeguards, there's just a lot more information we have to give them that in the past this information, didn't exist on this level, but it is something new and something that's a challenge," says Hempstead Town Chief Ocean Lifeguard Mike Romano.
State beaches are instituting similar protocols. It's something lifeguard union president Brad Helpworth never thought he'd have to do.
"It is a fluid situation, it's a unique situation. We've never had a situation like this, but we are doing everything we can to ensure safety," he says.
At Point Lookout Beach, guards made more than 3,000 rescues last year. They're expecting similar numbers again, even with the pandemic.
Hempstead officials say they have their new procedures in place and ready to go for Memorial Day weekend.