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More lifeguards recruited but service still short-staffed

An unmanned lifeguard station as the busy season gets into high gear (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Two new lifeguards have been hired, bringing the number of people employed full and part-time to patrol the beaches to 14, the Government said.

However, despite a recruitment campaign, the number is still well below the 21 full-time positions needed to provide comprehensive coverage beyond Horseshoe Bay.

The issue of lifeguard numbers and when they worked was thrown into the spotlight after the death of Hyon Duk Shin in March.

Mr Shin, 49, from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, swam towards a young child who struggled in high waves on Horseshoe Bay but got into difficulties himself.

He died in the water before emergency services arrived.

His death prompted calls to extend the lifeguard season, which runs from May 1 to October 31, as more cruise ships arrived earlier.

In the House of Assembly, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said lifeguard pay could be increased and work permits fast-tracked in an effort to increase the number of people watching over the island’s beaches.

Asked for an update this week, a spokesman for public works said it had recently hired two new lifeguards — one passed the initial swim assessment on May 28 and the other passed earlier in the year.

“One of these hires will be a full-time, seasonal lifeguard, and the other a reserve lifeguard. These additions are part of the service’s ongoing efforts to bolster its lifeguard team,” the spokesman added.

He said the new hires meant that the lifeguard service now had seven full-time seasonal lifeguards, up from five last year, and seven reserve seasonal lifeguards.

“Despite recruitment efforts, the service has yet to achieve the more than 21 full-time, seasonal positions required to provide comprehensive coverage beyond Horseshoe Bay,” the spokesman said.

A final ISA will be held on June 23, representing the last chance for candidates to enrol in the final lifeguard training course of the season, which officially starts on June 29.

The spokesman said: “Traditionally, the service sees more high school-aged candidates and students returning from UK universities participating in this course, potentially providing a much needed boost to the number of lifeguards on duty this season.

“One challenge is attracting adults who meet the prerequisites and can commit to working eight months or more. Therefore, adults who meet the prerequisites are encouraged to apply.

“The Department of Parks remains dedicated to ensuring the safety of Bermuda's beaches and strives to recruit qualified lifeguards to meet this critical need.”

People interested in lifeguarding in Bermuda can e-mail parksdept@gov.bm and njtrott@gov.bm

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Published June 20, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated June 20, 2024 at 7:54 am)

More lifeguards recruited but service still short-staffed

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