PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — With the summer tourism season winding down, lifeguards are being credited for keeping people safe along Panama City Beach. 

Officials said there were fewer drownings and water rescues this year.

“We ended up having 16 seasonal lifeguards in addition to our six full-time guard staff,” Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Beach Safety Director Wil Spivey said.

Panama City Beach Fire Rescue hired four more seasonal lifeguards this summer than in years past.

“We added a guarded beach down at the east end in addition to the one here at the City Pier,” Spivey said. “So we were just able to do a lot more preventative activities and education which is really key to keeping folks safe on the beach.”

Spivey said the additional guards allowed workers to patrol smaller areas.

“When you’re dedicated to a spot versus when you’re roving miles of beach you can really focus on educating folks, making more public contacts, more preventative action,” Spivey said.

He said there were still drownings on yellow and single red flag days. Spivey said they were due to rip currents, medical emergencies and people who don’t know how to swim. But there were still fewer drownings than in previous years. 

“There has been a minimal number associated with rip currents,” Spivey said. “And we have had calmer water through July and August this year than the previous two seasons.” 

Spivey said they are always looking for new lifeguards.