PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL. (WMBB) —Labor Day marked the end of the traditional tourist season. And lifeguard season is also winding down, permanent lifeguards will stay, and seasonal ones are done.
Seasonal contracts for part-time lifeguards are over on Sept. 30. With fewer people on the beach, the eight full-time lifeguards can take their breath and prepare for next year while still patrolling 10 miles of beach.
“Got a lot of good applicants. We’re sifting through them right now, going through. I’m going to hold interviews pretty soon, so we’ll fill that and. Yeah, so that will bring us up to eight permanent full-time lifeguards,” said Beach Safety Director Daryl Paul.
Earlier this year, national media dubbed Panama City Beach the deadliest beach in America. Bad rip currents in mid to late June led to seven drownings in 10 days.
There were nine deaths and 233 rescues during the entire summer season.
“As far as drownings, we had a bad year, but we see 17 million visitors a year. We’re one of the number one tourist destinations in the country. And along with that becomes a lot of responsibility,” said Ward One Panama City Beach Council Paul Casto.
Last year beach code enforcement officers issued 21 citations to those who violated double red flag ordinances. So far this year, they’ve issued 124 citations.
“We are getting another code enforcement officer to write more citations when people disregard the warnings and let them know we’re serious,” said Casto
“We’re increasing our staffing. We’re doing, we’re doing better. You know, we’re, we’re pushing our efforts up. You know that additional man’s really going to help,” said Paul.
Panama City Beach is looking to hire more seasonal lifeguards as well for the summer season. This year they had 15 but are looking to hire 25 for next year.