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Panama City Beach partners with local hotel to put lifeguards on duty

Boardwalk Beach Hotel and Convention Center is the first and only business so far to bring on...
Boardwalk Beach Hotel and Convention Center is the first and only business so far to bring on the city’s lifeguarding program.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - We hear it all the time. It’s always better to swim near a lifeguard.

“I wish everybody understood how important it was for a second set of eyes. Yes, it saves more lives than you realize,” visitor Melissa Pinkerton said.

Saving lives is exactly what the city of Panama City Beach is working towards doing through public-private partnerships.

“More lifeguards means of course less drownings,” Panama City Beach City Councilman Paul Casto said. “Let the city hire the lifeguards and we get reimbursed from the business.”

Boardwalk Beach Hotel and Convention Center is the first and only business so far to bring on the city’s lifeguarding program.

“Boardwalk provides the rescue equipment, the lifeguard stand, the four-wheelers on the beach for a lifeguard. And the city gets reimbursed for the money,” Casto said.

It isn’t cheap. All that equipment adds up to more than $40,000 and personnel costs total roughly $85,000 a year.

But for hotel guests, knowing there’s a lifeguard on duty is priceless.

“You can never be too safe. Yeah better to have it and not need it, as to need it and not have it,” visitor Airelle Herron said.

Boardwalk Beach will have lifeguards on duty seven days a week for the rest of the season, during prime beach hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the off-season, there will be lifeguards on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

It’s a safety measure that visitors said they’re relieved to know is provided for them, just in case the worst was to happen.

“I feel like that since we have a lifeguard it’s a little bit more safer and whatnot and we can kind of like relax a little bit more,” Herron said.

“It’s more comfortable and for everybody else like I’m a mom of seven,” Pinkerton said. “More eyes are better than just yours so why not?”

City leaders said they hope more businesses will step up and partner with them to get more lifeguards on the beaches and hopefully save lives.

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