NORFOLK, Va. -- Go to any of Norfolk’s beaches, and you won't just see lifeguards on the lifeguard stands - you'll also see them on ATVs. The vehicles’ goal is to help the lifeguards be able to look out over the beaches.
"We couldn't respond to emergencies east or west of our park beaches,” Dan Jones, the head of the city’s aquatics and beaches department, said. “It gets us on the sand, and it gets us to places faster."
These ATVs are just one thing they are learning about. In fact, they still have more things to cover because this week is their training week.
"We've got all of the beach lifeguards in Norfolk coming in,” Jones said. “We're going to be running rescue drills off the lifeguard stands; we're going to be [on] swims and runs from beach to beach."
They are preparing so that when more beachgoers arrive and emergency strikes, they will be ready. Jones oversees them and is teaching them all he knows.
He is getting help from local authorities such as the Norfolk Police Department. An officer was present to teach the lifeguards how to use the ATVs.
"They're also going to be on scene, typically on water rescues and medical emergencies,” Jones spoke of the police’s role in conjunction with their work, “very quickly on their ATV units, as well as land units coming from the streets."
These guys are going to have their work cut out for them this summer. With miles and miles of beaches, there are not a lot of lifeguards this year, according to Jones. That is because here and elsewhere, there are lifeguard shortages.
“But that's in general - there's an employment shortage as well,” Jones said. “Lifeguards are just a big part of that as well."
Their work will not just focus on the water, but also on land.
"We're here to support, and we're going to remind people of what the rules and city codes are."
Jones also offered these tips to everyone:
"Swim near a lifeguard and pay attention to whistles and sirens,” Jones explained. “Parents, you've got to watch your children."