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South Walton Fire District hiring more lifeguards ahead of expected busy summer

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 8:41 PM CDT
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SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

When people come to the beach, many want to hop right in the water, but the Gulf isn’t always safe.

That’s why the South Walton Fire District is hiring more lifeguards ahead of a busy summer.

When tourists come to South Walton, many will tell you a lot of their trip is focused on enjoying the beach.

And keeping beachgoers safe is what lifeguards aim to do.

“It’s really important that when you come down to the beach that you’re considering safety as well. Everyone is always so ready to come down here and vacation and have a good time. A lot of the time people forget that when you’re on vacation you also need to be wary of your surroundings,” said lifeguard Isaiah Boyd.

Like many employers around the Panhandle, South Walton Fire District is having a hard time hiring lifeguards.

But Beach Safety Director David Vaughan said they have a unique problem on top of that.

“Then you add the specialized skill set, that you’ve got to be a good swimmer,” said Vaughan.

With tourism numbers expected to continue to break records this summer, the South Walton Fire District says it’s more important now than ever to have lifeguards.

“It’s a simple numbers game, with more visitors means more incidents,” said Vaughan.

With 26 miles of beach to cover, and rough Gulf waters, Vaughan said it’s important they find qualified lifeguards.

“With the way the Gulf has behaved this spring the emphasis is even higher because we’ve had a very rough spring. We have a lot of ground to cover and we’ve got a lot of people who need help,” said Vaughan.

And helping visitors stay safe is what South Walton Fire District officials say keeps tourism alive.

“Tourism drives this entire economy and we need to protect our beaches. We need to protect the people that visit us and so this is one of the most crucial jobs that you can do in this county,” said Vaughn.

Lifeguards are paid $15 an hour and are paid for training.

You can apply and learn more here.

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