Beaches are now in full-fledged family mode, Dewey Beach Patrol Capt. Todd Fritchman told commissioners at a July 21 meeting, where Lt. Ian Noonan was recognized as 2022 Lifeguard of the Year.
Noonan’s peers voted him the top lifeguard last year, Fritchman said, noting Noonan provided exemplary service and was a standout college athlete who is now moving forward with his career goals.
“It’s a shame he had to grow up,” Fritchman said to laughter from the audience.
In accepting the award, Noonan said guarding the beach never felt like work because he enjoyed it so much. The experience was pivotal to his development as a young man, he continued.
This year, Fritchman said, guards were challenged more than ever by an excessive amount of June bugs for two weeks. June bugs is a term used to describe recent high school and college graduates.
But now, he continued, the beach largely comprises family units, everyone from great-grandchildren through their great-grandparents.
So far, the patrol has seen one major medical response with basic life support and 27 minor first-aid responses, Fritchman said, stating that transport with advanced life support is needed for major responses.
Guards have issued 11 civil code violations, he said, and of those, two required police intervention for dealing with alcohol and behavior issues. Four missing people have obviously all been reunited with their groups, he said.
Four open-water rescues and three open-water assists have been recorded so far, he said, along with four beach evacuations due to inclement weather and five water evacuations.
A rescue occurs when a lifeguard physically extricates a victim from the water when the victim is unable to do so alone. An assist refers to a removal from the surf zone for physical, preventive or educational reasons.
Fritchman said he does not track marine life evacuations that occur when lifeguards spot large fish balls in the swimming zone near shore and evacuate all swimmers to avoid what may be underneath the fish ball in the feeding zone.
“There’s a certain word we’re not allowed to use in our industry, so we don’t use that word, but marine life is how we categorize that,” Fritchman said.
The patrol will be sending a team to the U.S. Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships in Virginia Beach in August, he said. A local businessperson has stepped up to fund the team’s housing and transportation needs, Fritchman said, and guards are currently fundraising for food and other needs.
For more information about Dewey Beach Patrol, or to donate to support the team attending the national championships, go to townofdeweybeach.com.