PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Beachgoers are being hailed as heroes after linking arms to save several swimmers caught in a rip current in the Gulf on Wednesday.
Single red flags were flying in Panama City Beach at the time of the incident involving the human chain. However, unincorporated Bay County had been flying double red flags since 11:30 that morning.
“We recognize that there is the potential for some confusion with the inconsistencies with the beach flags and we’ve since rectified that with reaching out to the county Sheriff and to become more in sync with what we’re doing,” said Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Chief, Justin Busch.
Chief Busch said they try their best to upgrade or downgrade their beach flags in conjunction with what the county does — but that was not the case on Wednesday.
The city did not change their flags to double red until around 3:00 Wednesday afternoon.
“Unfortunately yesterday there was some inconsistency but we have cleared those channels up,” Busch said. “We now have our Beach Safety division in contact with the lieutenant that runs the beach safety division for the sheriff and we’re going to be in line moving forward.”
Chief Busch said the city determines which flags will fly by sending members of beach safety into the water to feel how strong the current is. They then report their experience and set the flags for the day.
He also said they are making it a priority to contact the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Beach Safety division to report their flags and any possible changes throughout the day. He said they are always looking for ways to improve how they protect the public and said procedures like this are always under evaluation.