BRICK – Township lifeguards, who are mostly teachers and college students, have returned to school.
Lifeguard stands are being stored for the winter on an access trail by Brick Beach 3. Concession stands have been cleared out, bathrooms have been winterized, and all the beach equipment has been inventoried for next summer.
The township’s Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello said that when the beaches close after Labor Day, all 100 radios are sent out and they are thoroughly greased and repaired. Dive tanks get reconditioned, and the three jet skis and three quads are winterized and stored.
“The jet skis and quads are out in the salt air every single day on the beach, and at the end of each day they get washed and sprayed down with Salt Away,” he said. “We’ve got to take care of them so we don’t have to replace a large ticket item each year.”
They are all in good shape and none will need to be replaced for next summer, he added.
Beach revenue, which includes season badges, season parking, daily badges, daily parking and senior parking totaled $495,718 this year, up from $410,165 last year.
Lifeguards were busy this summer, especially in August when rip currents are at their worst. A family of four – including both parents and two children – were saved all at once when they were sucked out in a rip current, Santaniello said.
There was a total of 18 saves this summer, which means three whistles are blown, everyone has to get out of the water and all 33 guards on duty assist in the save.
Lifeguards administered first aid 66 times and administered oxygen on 17 occasions, he said. They had 101 assists, which is when a lifeguard blows a whistle once and interacts with a beach goer, such as to explain that there is a rip current, for example.
Also, EMS was dispatched to the beaches 21 times to treat people with heat exhaustion, lacerations, fishing hooks stuck in their skin, and much more, he said.
Brick police were called to the beaches 24 times for reasons such as people drinking on the beach, intoxication, not listening to lifeguard instructions, and more.
“Instead of our lifeguards getting into it with them and taking their focus off the swimmers, we call the police department,” Santaniello said.
There were four lost children (who were all recovered) and 636 instances of personal contact between lifeguards and the public.
“This is something we started keeping track of this year,” Santaniello said. “The (United States Lifesaving Association) likes to hear those stats. It shows you how important lifeguards are in educating the public and trying to keep them safe.”
There was one harrowing incident in early August when a Code X – or a submerged victim – was called in.
A woman said her three-year old was hit by a wave and she lost contact with him after he vanished in the water. She ran to the lifeguard stand right away and told them her child disappeared in the surf.
The Coast Guard was on their way, the Brick Police Department dive team had been deployed, volunteer firefighters were summoned, and lifeguards from surrounding towns had come to assist. Even Santaniello, who was at a family barbeque, headed to the beach.
The little boy was found wandering on the beach in Mantoloking, one and a half miles away from he was reported missing. Santaniello guessed that he had been knocked around in the surf and just started walking.
Santaniello said he is going to recommend stricter rules for umbrella use to the Recreation Committee after a township resident in her 50s was hit by an umbrella that became airborne after a wind gust sent about 10 umbrellas flying. It was a beautiful day and the gust came out of nowhere, he said.
“She was struck and was knocked unconscious,” Santaniello recalled. “She had lacerations on her face and she was in intensive care for a few days at Jersey Shore Hospital.”
He said he is looking into rules other towns have in place for umbrella use. The Recreation Committee might ask the township to require that all umbrellas have a corkscrew base.
Santaniello said the beach staff received a lot of compliments this season for having great customer service.
“We got a letter from a woman in her 70s who said she hadn’t been to the beach in 40-something years, and she had such a great beach experience that she said she now has faith in today’s generation because of our lifeguards,” he said.
“It was a great summer, all around,” Santaniello said.