At 3am a call came over about an attempted suicide at a beach on the west end. Supervisor Stephen Limones was on call and rolled out of bed and drove with lights and sirens to the scene to meet police, fire, and EMS. A family was on the beach and one of them was upset and swam out reportedly to end his life. Fortunately, in this case the family was able to bring him back to shore just as the emergency responders pulled up. EMS recognized that the person was having some kind of episode and made the decision to bring him to the emergency room for assessment and support.
5am the same morning close to the same location as the earlier call, a man was reportedly on narcotics and had evaded the police by running out into the water. Stephen showed up and went out to try to talk the man back to shore. As he got close, the man dove face down in the water and floated until Stephen got to him. Stephen took a risk and grabbed the man from behind and drug him to shore, speaking reassuringly to him. Police officers took over once they reached shallow water and ended up taking him into custody, mostly to protect him from himself until he came down.
More people more of the year means more calls of every type – day or night. This is the reality for first responders of all types working on an island that sees more visitors each year. 8.1 million people coming to the island means a larger number of 911 calls of all types, particularly beach related incidents.
Fortunately, with a lot of work by the Beach Patrol staff, we’ve run an almost continuous lifeguard academy, mostly because foreign Work/Tourist j1 visa holders don’t come en masse, but trickle in these days. Counting those in the academy we are up to a little more than 90 lifeguards, 42 of which are j1 visa holders, plus our 15 full-time Supervisors. We’re not at our target number, but we feel confident at this point we’ll be able to cover all the towers we have in our projections. We’ll be able to hit all the rock jetties each day plus some additional seawall towers where they’re needed. We’ll also be able to start our daily west end patrol schedule from Memorial to Labor Day weekends, and cover Stewart Beach, East Beach, and Dellanara Park.
To add to that we’ve got a new class of Wave Watchers graduated and out checking the beaches, Survivor Support Network is ready for another season, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will be here for holidays and as needed, and our partner public safety groups are ready to go.
Wednesday around 5pm at 37th we’ll kick off our annual “night swim” lifeguard academy graduation exercise and run, swim, and paddle our way to Stewart Beach. Come support your lifeguard crew by cheering them on as they make their way through this grueling challenge!