PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — According to Panama City Beach Fire Rescue last year alone six individuals drowned on city beaches. 

Some residents said this number didn’t surprise them. 

“Not at all,” Panama City Beach resident Ann McGory said. “I mean, only because maybe drownings because of our riptides but other than that, I mean, that would be personal.”

Panama City Beach Fire Rescue’s Deputy Chief Justin Busch noted that monitoring the water with lifeguards in chairs has helped.

“We’ve been very successful with eliminating the drownings on lifeguarded beaches,” Busch said. “We have not had one of those. We haven’t experienced a tragedy at a guarded beach.” 

Across the 9 miles of city beaches, there are only three lifeguard towers. Two of which are stationed at Russell Fields City Pier. While the third is privately contracted at the County Pier. 

The remaining area is monitored by rover patrol, which consists of personnel using trucks and ATVs.  

In response to being asked why the city doesn’t have more lifeguard chairs, Busch said “ I couldn’t answer that question. Well, it’s a thing that we put in our plan and we are actively pursuing it. The city continues to assign budget money to it to grow that program and put more lifeguards on the beach.”

Having a more comprehensive lifeguard program has been discussed numerous times.

The lifeguard we do have focus on educating the public and saving lives. 

“A lot of it has to do with rip currents, how to avoid them how to recognize them,” Busch said. “And then also, what are those procedures if you happen to be caught up in one we’re right we want you to swim parallel to the shore.”

Busch’s best advise is to swim near a lifeguard tower if at all possible.