Beach Pushes Do-It-Yourself Rescues

Lifeguards? We don't need no stinking lifeguards, says one South Florida city

By Todd Wright
|  Sunday, May 31, 2009  |  Updated 10:20 AM PDT
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Celebrities in the Surf

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If your drowning at the beach, you can only hope the person walking by the lifepost looks like one of these girls.

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Do-It-Yourself Rescue

Swimmers on beaches at Lauderdale by the Sea are supposed to feel a lot safer now that 250 wooden posts with inflatable rings attached have replaced real lifeguards. It's rescuing the do-it-yourself way.
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The last situation you want to run into when you're in trouble in the water is not seeing a lifeguard running to your rescue.

But on beaches in Lauderdale by the Sea, you have a better chance of finding a leprechaun in the sand than a lifeguard on watch. But never fear, beach goers and marginal swimmers. Lifepost is here.

Lifepost is the city's new, cost effective approach to keeping swimmers safe on the beach. The system is easy (if not extremely scary for the person in trouble). It's basically, do-it-yourself rescue.

There's a poll with an inflatable ring, life preserver thingy and a phone attached. Can't get much safer than that, unless, of course, you had a trained lifeguard on duty.

Here's how it works: If you see someone in trouble, you're supposed to use the phone to call for help. After the call, you grab the ring, strip down to your Speedo and pull off your best David Hasselhoff impersonation (no slow motion required) and go save the poor sap in the water. Chances are the person will be excited to see you (especially if you are bounding in slow motion like Pamela Anderson). Hopefully, you don't get pulled under in the frantic rescue attempt. Good luck with that.

Slow Motion For Me

The city has all but scrapped its lifeguard program because of budget constraints and replaced live humans with wood and inflatable rings. City officials said the lifeposts have saved two lives already since the system was put in place two weeks ago. Congressman Ron Klein is thinking about pushing the DIY rescue system to other beaches as a cost saving measure.

Now, we're all for cities trimming budgets, but in an area where beaches are constantly packed with people who love the water but can't really swim, doesn't it make sense to invest in a system that doesn't involve an untrained person pretending to be the star of Baywatch?

In short, stop being cheap and pay for certified, well trained lifeguards, not a stick with a ring.

Lifepost may have saved two people already, but it's not worth the risk to count the number of people who drown.

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