Guardians of the Shore: SWFD Elevates Lifeguard Services for South Walton Beaches - 30A

Guardians of the Shore: SWFD Elevates Lifeguard Services for South Walton Beaches

By Mackenzie McClintock, SWFD Public Information Officer

Another wave of spring break visitors in town means South Walton Fire District (SWFD) lifeguards are headed back onto the beach. The official 2024 Beach Safety Season is underway from March 1 – October 31 in South Walton.

Lifeguards staff 15 towers across the 26 miles of South Walton’s beaches, which stretch from Inlet Beach to Miramar Beach.

These surf rescue professionals can respond to emergencies on the beach, as well as within proximity to the beach such as County Highway 30A and Scenic Gulf Drive.

“We’ve spent the last few months training up all of our full-time staff,” said SWFD Beach Safety Director David Vaughan. “At this point, we have more than 20 full-time personnel who are certified EMTs, we’ve made advancements to our medical equipment, improved our fleet of response vehicles, and trained very hard physically to be the best we can be.”

From responding to medical events, performing water rescues, locating missing people, to answering everyday questions about the area, lifeguards serve not only as first responders but community stewards for visitors and locals alike.

SWFD’s Beach Safety and Surf Rescue program first began in 2006 and has since grown to encompass more than 50 to 60 staff members every summer. Some of these lifeguards serve in a seasonal role, while others work full-time, year-round to provide coverage across the beach.

The agency continues looking for qualified individuals to join the team as a lifeguard in 2024, but hopes are high for the year thanks to the endless community support.

“We have been backed by our locals and longtime visitors since the inception of the program,” Vaughan said. “We need their help educating others this year about the importance of following the beach flag system and swimming near one of our lifeguards. We’re most effective when we can physically see swimmers and prevent any emergency from occurring before it’s too late.”

For daily updates about the beach flags and surf conditions, text SAFETY to 31279.

For more info about rip current safety, drowning prevention, swimming near a lifeguard, or applying for a job with SWFD Beach Safety, visit SWFD or follow their updates on Facebook and Instagram.

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