Coronavirus News: Beach lifeguards deploy new safety protocols amid COVID-19 pandemic

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Beach lifeguards in our area are now deploying a whole new set of safety protocols due to the coronavirus.

Most lifeguards have been given their own individual PPE, are sitting in separate chairs, and are wearing masks while on the beach.

Lifeguards are also being assigned to monitor social distancing on the beach.

Robert Moses Field 3 lifeguard Lieutenant Brad Hepworth explained lifeguards this summer are more likely to call people in if it appears they are having trouble swimming so lifeguards do not have to risk having to swim out to them without a mask.

Hepworth said if a lifeguard does have to enter the water and it doesn't appear it is a life or death situation, the lifeguard will try to coach the swimmer back to shore and maintain a six-foot distance in the water.
He said if the swimmer is not able to swim, lifeguards will throw a buoy to the swimmer and use a rope attached to the buoy to pull the person back to shore. If the person is still struggling, the lifeguard will resort to the standard protocol of hugging the person to the buoy and swimming him or her back in.

"When we do come back, that's when we will decontaminate," Hepworth said.

Hepworth said lifeguards will be using a bag valve mask, or BVM, for CPR. A BVM is a self-inflating bag so lifeguards do not have to use their own breath.

Lifeguard stations also have bagged sets of four pairs of gowns, face shields and gloves for a medical response on the beach.

"We ordinarily have four people responding to a rescue," Hepworth said. "While this is being broken out, the individual lifeguard who potentially made person-to-person contact is going to go decontaminate."

Hepworth said social distancing regulations will be enforced in the water as well. Individual families are free to group together, but strangers cannot congregate.

He said people should account for the fact that the ocean can push you into other people, so swimmers should maintain large distances in the water.

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