Program designed for lifeguards to learn different rescue mechanisms kicked off Monday

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 9:48 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Panama City Beach Safety team is making a big splash in the water and a big difference on the beach. The Open Water Training Academy kicked off Monday for the 40-hour course. Beach Safety director Wil Spivey said they are training seven new people in the class and three firemen doing their yearly re-certification.

“We’re doing mock rescues where we cover all different scenarios we might encounter in the season,” said Spivey.

Spivey said these mock rescues include multiple victims and using all the rescue equipment; equipment such as rescue boards, cans, tubes, and fins.

“Teaching them how to select the right equipment and use it most effectively to make rescues,” said Spivey.

Spivey said this training equips the lifeguards with all the tools and knowledge needed to save lives. He says some tips the public can take if they decide to swim is pay attention to the warning flags, pay attention to rip currents, and swim where there’s a lifeguard on duty if possible.

“The single reds and the double reds are when everyone is going to be swimming, because they want to play in the waves and that’s when they’re going to get in trouble and that’s when you’re going to be making your rescues,” Beach Fireman and Paramedic Chris Mills said.

Mills said they also learn what safety measures to take to help prevent having a rescue situation in the first place.

“In red flag waters, it’s best not to go over knee deep. Double red flags, don’t enter the water,” said Spivey.

Spivey said this year they’re also looking to bring in drones to assist in search and rescues.

“We’re going to be as efficient as possible and we’re going to cover as much ground as possible with what we have to work with,” said Spivey.

Both men say with a large amount of open water, the better the lifeguards can be, the better off the visitors will be. Spivey said the season starts April 1st and ends September 30th. There will be lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Spivey said there are 11 seasonal and part-time positions open right now. If you’re interested in becoming an open water lifeguard, Spivey said to email him at

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