Not Enough Lifeguards To Staff Gray Gables Beach
By: Diana T. Barth
In spite of the best efforts of Krissanne Caron, director of the Bourne Recreation Department, the town has not been able to find enough qualified lifeguards to provide coverage to all five beaches selectmen hoped to staff.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino gave that bad news to the board at its Tuesday meeting.
The announcement means Gray Gables beach will not have lifeguard coverage this year, Mr. Guerino said.
The four beaches that can be covered will open this Saturday, Ms. Caron said.
The decision not to cover Gray Gables will likely disappoint some, including Roberta A. Dwyer of Gray Gables, who led a successful Town Meeting campaign to add $25,000 to the municipal budget in hopes of covering the beach near her home.
Mr. Guerino told selectmen, however, that he had to stick to his original list of priority beaches: Sagamore Beach, Monument Beach, and Electric Avenue, located in three of the separate geographical areas of town.
Various people had also suggested that covering the beach at Hen Cove be a priority because dredging caused a dropoff that could catch swimmers unaware. Mr. Guerino made that the fourth beach.
On Tuesday afternoon, prior to the selectmen’s meeting, Ms. Caron said she was still conducting the last of the lifeguard trials. She said she has been “living and breathing” lifeguards for at least the last three months.
No lifeguard coverage was provided last year, so there was no pool of candidates ready to return. Further, equipment was worn, or non-existent, and first aid supplies and other necessities had to be gathered. For example, she said, the lifeguards had no backboard to use in the case of a spinal injury.
In determining staffing needs, Ms. Caron said safety requires that there be at least two lifeguards available in an emergency, with a third designated to cover breaks, to call emergency personnel, and clear swimmers from the water, if necessary.
She said she heard from several lifeguards who had served the town in the past that they had sometimes served an eight-hour shift without anyone designated to provide them a lunch or bathroom break. She said she could not allow that to happen in the future. She hopes that better working conditions will mean better retention of lifeguards going forward.
With the help of newly named lifeguard coordinator Grace Davis, a lifeguard manual is being prepared.
Mr. Guerino told selectmen that the town advertised for lifeguards as early as possible. Some, he said, were lured away by other jobs; others, although certified, did not pass the necessary swimming test.
He said he would not rule out adding that fifth beach if enough qualified lifeguards were to materialize, but said time is running out, and it looks like the bottom line will be coverage for just four beaches this year.
A lifeguard meet and greet is planned for this afternoon from 4 to 4:45 at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Building. Registration for swimming lessons will be held from 5 to 6:30 PM.