A piece from News Channel 7 announced that seven South Walton Beach,Florida lifeguards recently become certified jet ski rescue operators. The 40-hour course was provided by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), which utilizes the Hawaiian training method for its own nationwide instruction. The course took four days to complete and the newly certified guards gained the necessary tools and skills required to utilize PWC as tools for rescue.
Instructor Glen Kuehner said, “On some of the bigger days and days where it is more extreme to get out in the surf conditions, double red flags when people aren’t paying attention to the flags, this is a tool for us to be able to get out quicker, faster and sometimes be able to pick up multiple victims in terrible surf conditions.”
SWFD Lifeguard Supervisor Colin Perlaky, claims this new resource will enable the lifeguards to be more effective along the 26 mile strand of beach. They will be more efficient and able to quickly reach people in distress.
Perlaky went on to say this about the course,”We want them to be able to be confident on the jet ski and know how it moves through the water and how to navigate the water as well as coming up to a victim and how to properly secure the victim safely and get them returned back to shore.”
Senior Guard Meagan Ritacco expressed the importance of continuing education for senior guards. Ritacco said,”It’s important for the senior guards to know and be able to lead the crew on rescues pertaining [to], you know, high surf, any kind of search and rescues, Code X kind of stuff like that.”
The guards also learned how to maneuver PWC’s in tight spaces, operate the skis near victims, and gained the ability to move around sinking vessels. The class was held during a cold and blustery week in FL, which gave the trainees an opportunity to work in moderately rough weather.