Due to the expected return of staff to college, the Rehoboth Beach Patrol is encouraging beachgoers to swim in areas that are being watched by its lifeguards.
Lynne Coan, city spokesperson, said the beach patrol is guarding an area from just north of the Henlopen Hotel, south to Hickman Street. The city has 18 lifeguards on staff, including Capt. Jeff Giles and an emergency medical technician, she said.
“Unguarded beaches are well marked as such, and we recommend that beachgoers swim in areas that are guarded,” said Coan, in an email Aug. 25. “After Labor Day, we anticipate hiring additional veteran lifeguards from other patrols that will be closing for the summer.”
Rehoboth Beach isn’t the only beach patrol unit that has had to adjust its lifeguarding routine because of students returning to college. Last week, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced it had reduced the lifeguarding hours at two of its Delaware State Parks ocean swimming beaches.
Now through Friday, Sept. 3, Delaware Seashore State Park’s Tower Road beach will be unguarded during the week, but will remain guarded on weekends. Also through Sept. 3, Fenwick Island State Park’s Fenwick Lot beach will be unguarded during the week but remain guarded on weekends.
Other Delaware State Parks beaches – the main beach at Cape Henlopen State Park and the South Indian River Inlet side of Delaware Seashore State Park – will be guarded every day through Labor Day with limited staff.
The Rehoboth Beach Police Department is also experiencing summer staff shortages. During a commissioner meeting in April, Police Chief Keith Banks said the department had hired roughly half of the 28 cadets it was authorized for. At the time, he said there were more applicants, but they didn’t meet the minimum standards.
Coan said there are currently 10 seasonal police cadets on staff. After Labor Day, she said, there will be six seasonal cadets, who will work weekends through October to supplement the full-time police force.
Coan said the city has continued to ensure public safety this season by adjusting schedules, hiring part-time guards, splitting shifts, and supplementing cadet presence on the Boardwalk and throughout downtown with full-time officers when necessary.
Coan said, similar to many businesses, staffing summer positions has been a challenge for the city this season. Not only were applications down at the beginning of the season, but the city also is committed to hiring only highly qualified seasonal staffers, she said.
“Neither of these decreases in staffing are unexpected, as many seasonal workers are returning to college as they do every year in mid- to late August,” said Coan. “We continue to provide lifeguard coverage to as much of the beach as we can staff, and visitors and residents should remain confident that Rehoboth Beach remains a safe, welcoming community.”