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NY Lifeguards, Supervisors Post Five-Year Safety Record

It takes preparation, teamwork and diligence to achieve a safety record of this magnitude and duration, said Local 508 Lifeguard Supervisors President Peter Stein.
Local 461 lifeguards and Local 508 supervisors post five-year safety record while on duty at city beaches and pools over the summer. Photo Credit: Clarence Elie-Rivera
By Diane S. Williams, AFSCME DC 37 (New York) ·
Tags: Our Stories

As the 2018 beach season drew to a close, New York City lifeguards and their supervisors were on their way to achieving an astonishing safety record – there had not been a drowning fatality in five consecutive years.

It takes preparation, teamwork and diligence to achieve a safety record of this magnitude and duration, said Local 508 Lifeguard Supervisors President Peter Stein.

While city residents and visitors enjoy the waves and summer sun, lifeguards are hard at work. Lifeguards and their supervisors are first responders who are on constant alert to help people at the first sign of danger at the city’s 56 public pools and 14 miles of beaches.

Over the past five summers, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation estimates there were between 15 million and 22.7 million visitors to pools and beaches each season. Each lifeguard responds to 15 to 20 incidents and medical emergencies a day, the Parks Department estimates. The workers maintain optimum fitness and run rescue drills daily.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, lifeguards and their supervisors are on duty seven days a week, protecting the lives of millions of beach goers — teens and tourists, families and seniors. Their season ends one week past Labor Day.

The Parks and Recreation Department employs about 1,500 to 1,600 seasonal lifeguards who receive rigorous training at the Municipal Lifeguard Training Program to prepare for beach and pool patrol. They are taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, rescue techniques, and how to read water currents, riptides and more. 

Many lifeguards are hired at age 16.

“They shoulder a tremendous responsibility beyond their years, carrying the weighty task of safeguarding human life,” Stein said. “These emergency responders are city heroes.”

The Parks and Recreation Department hires “the best of the best for this job — the fastest, strongest swimmers who are certified and confident in their swimming and rescue abilities,” said City Lifeguards Local 461 President Franklyn Paige.

Both locals have 100 percent union membership and participation.

“We are very proud of these young men and women and the outstanding safety record they’ve achieved over the past five years,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

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