Ocean City announces extended lifeguard hours

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Guards keep an eye on the strong surf Friday, July 4. The Ocean City Beach Patrol has announced that it will expand its evening hours. (photo by Bill Barlow) Ocean City announced extended lifeguard hours OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Beach Patrol officials announced that they will protect three downtown beaches – Eighth, Ninth and 12th Streets – from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day.

The extended coverage will also include the OCBP’s Rapid Response Team, with guards stationed at the OCBP headquarters at 12th Street, ready to respond to an emergency with a Jet ski anywhere on the island.

The “extended hours” program, where the beaches are protected by guards on the beach, was previously offered on Friday and Saturday evenings and holidays only. Beaches in other locations close at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 5:30 p.m. on weekends.

The rapid response team was on duty from Sunday through Thursday. Guards were ready to respond in an emergency, but were not stationed on the beach.

The change comes in the wake of the June 29 drowning death of Corinthian “Cory” Hammond at the Ninth Street beach, which was not guarded at the time. Hammond was with a large group of people who found themselves in trouble about 7 p.m. that evening. The Rapid Response Team responded, appearing on the scene within one minute and safely rescuing 14 people. Hammond, who was swimming with the group, went missing. His body was found by fishermen near the Longport Bridge on July 3.

“We’re doing a combination of both, extended hours and the Rapid Response Team,” said OCBP Operations Manager Tom Mullineaux. “With guards on the beach and guards able to respond to anywhere on the island from 12th Street, we will have everything covered.

“We will be doing this every night,” said Mullineaux.

Mullineaux said bathers wishing to swim after normal hours should only swim at the protected beaches.
“Always swim near at a guarded beach,” he said.

The extended hours program was put into place several years ago in response to a drowning death at Ninth Street after guards had left for the day. The Rapid Response Team, with the use of a Jet-ski, was added a few years later.

Blending both programs, Mullineaux said, will permit bathers to extend their fun in the water.

The OCBP has not experienced a drowning at a protected beach in 116 years.

In his weekly address, Mayor Jay Gillian warned would-be bathers that the island is experiencing strong than usual rip currents.

He advised visitors to swim at guarded beaches, never swim alone and never drink alcohol before swimming.

“Always respect the power of the ocean and become knowledgeable about its dangers, especially rip tides,” he said.

The OCBP produced an informational video regarding rip currents and can be seen frequently on Ocean City’s Channel 97, he said. 

“I encourage you to view this video with your family to better understand how these dangerous conditions occur and what you should do if ever caught in a rip tide,” he said. 

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