SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Big crowds at the beach have created more work for lifeguards this summer, increasing the amount of overtime pay and putting a dent in the Los Angeles County Fire Department budget.
CBS2’s Laurie Perez visited Santa Monica on Sunday afternoon, and saw a ton of people trying to beat the heat. While that’s not unusual on Labor Day weekend, officials told Perez it has been that busy many days since the start of the year.
Guards say the hot weather inland has been relentless, pushing people to the coast for relief. Combine more people with bigger swells in the ocean creating stronger surf, and it’s a situation where lifeguards have been put to the test for longer hours, practically year round.
“The recurrent lifeguards out in the towers they don’t get a moment in their eight-hour day to rest so they’re just running from one prevention, preventing a group from going in to a rip current in one spot, running and making another rescue in a rip current down the beach,” said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Captain Tom Seth.
Lifeguards have rescued more than 8,000 people since Memorial Day, and with four months to go they are on track for a record. Already, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, the 9,700 rescues in 2014 is more than double that in all of 2012 or 2013.
Even before this busy summer, lifeguards were quite busy. According to the Daily News between 2010 to 2103 overtime wages increased by 51 percent to $1.5 million dollars.