The long and short of it is: Should we have lifeguards on our beaches in Panama City Beach? And, if so, why and how will we pay for it?
This comes up almost every year after drownings, and after the tragic deaths of two swimmers over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, it has come up again.
Do we need lifeguards? Could we have prevented the deaths over the weekend if a lifeguard system was in place?
I was listening to the Burnie Thompson Show the other morning and they were discussing that all the beach attendants/vendors are required to be lifeguard certified as part of the permitting process with them running a beach business. It was reported that many of them performed successful rescues over the weekend.
City Councelman Ken Nelson submits that a lifeguard system could be funded through the CRA. But would this be good enough? This would only provide funding for lifeguards within city limits, but not the unincorporated Bay County areas of Panama City Beach. Furthermore, is it realistic to try and fund lifeguards out of a budget whose funding isn’t solidified and may be tight already?
Another possible suggestion would be for the funding for lifeguards on Panama City Beach to come from the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC). Again, with a relatively small marketing budget, how can we expect to take even more money from that which we need to drive tourism?
Don’t get me wrong, I actually think the idea of lifeguards on our beach is a good idea, I’m just curious what ideas you have about funding them.
In addition, if we have lifeguards on our beaches, does that create a liability and vulnerability to lawsuit? Other areas are using lifeguards, even areas as close as Walton County. What are they doing?
I realize most of this post is actually me asking questions, but I don’t have many answers with this. We’ve proven time and time again that we can generate good discussion on pcbdaily.com, so please post your ideas, comments or concerns.