Monday, January 26, 2015

Life Guards

Many of our readers will remember that the National Park Service had intended to eliminate all funding for Ocracoke lifeguards last summer. After protests from islanders and visitors, the NPS relented and appropriated funds to provide lifeguards five days a week. The Ocracoke Civic & Business Association agreed to fund the other two days in spite of concerns that that was sending the wrong message to the NPS. Fears were raised that it would be an incentive for the Park to continue cutting funds for lifeguards.















Earlier this month the Ocracoke Current reported that the new Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Dave Hallac, "said that the current plan is for NPS to hire contracted lifeguards again this year, to staff the three beaches in the Seashore that traditionally have lifeguards (Ocracoke, Buxton, and Coquina Beach), and to pay for lifeguard services for seven days a week. NPS has initiated the contract process." Read more here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/104577.

Hallac is scheduled to attend the monthly meeting of the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association on February 11. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:21 AM

    Why was the Life saving service from the past stopped?. What was the funding source? Certainly some mechanism was put in place to replace, to cover the need? Or was the thinking most folks that needed to be rescued were sailors from sinking ships not someone willingly entering the water at their own risk from the shore? The enchanting beauty of the sea i casts a spell on those who dare to look.

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  2. The US Life Saving Service was not disbanded. In 1915 it was merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to form the US Coast Guard, "the only [US] maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws." The USLSS & the USCG were/are governmental agencies.

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  3. Anonymous11:47 PM

    Hmm what is their definition of " at sea?" How far from shore is --at sea? The USLSS would spot people in need from the shore or would they only respond to radio distress calls of Mayday Mayday?

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    1. The USLSS surfmen watched from the lookout tower for ships in distress, and patrolled the beach looking for shipwrecks. Marine radios were not installed on ships until around the turn of the 20th century, but there was no standard regulation to ensure reception of messages or to prevent interference . That changed in 1912 when the Titanic sank. The US Coast Guard was established in 1915. That expanded the scope of the life savers well beyond the limits of the USLSS.

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  4. Anonymous7:47 AM

    What type of equipment does the modern day Life Guard have to save someone? Is there an inflated raft to quickly rescue the victim? I just wonder how effective a single person would be swimming out to a person in distress. Emergency rescue teams are waiting for traffic accident and gun shot wound victims, around the clock they wait. Honestly, why would a beach resort attracting swimmers, treat potential drowning accident victims any differently.

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    1. Life guards on the Outer Banks have surf boards and swim fins at hand to assist them in a rescue if needed. Ocracoke Village has a small clinic, a doctor, and well-trained EMTs, but no hospital. The entire beach is owned and managed by the National Park Service, not the village of Ocracoke.

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  5. Just to be clear, the US Life Saving Service & the US Coast Guard have nothing to do with National Park Service life guards on Ocracoke's beach. Different scope, different agencies.

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  6. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Thank you for the clarification. It begs the question though, as what is the scope of the NPS?. That being said, does NPS encourage swimming at beaches within their realm. If other NPS beaches have life guards why would not this budget item not be considered for the Area that your location falls within.
    In one sense these are merely rhetorical questions that perhaps every taxpayer should ask when federal dollars are being spent. Or questions relevant to the topic at hand. PH your plate is so full these days I appreciate the opportunity to throw out questions or comments that may seem rude but it is merely for my amusement I must say. I selfishly find it entertaining to generate responses. Responses to further the discussion and learn how others feel on the subject at hand. If the reply/ argument/reposes/answer is thoughtful I once again thank the opportunity to analyze the subject from other perspectives. Good Grief, I respectfully try to be a Debbie Downer.

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    1. Ocracoke Island has 16 miles of undeveloped beach, all within the borders of the NPS, and almost all accessible for swimming. Only a small section of the beach is life guard protected, and that only in the peak season. I know of absolutely no one who wants to close the beach to swimming if there are no lifeguards present. It is a matter of personal responsibility. We can't be protected from every unforeseen event.Ocean swimming is a great delight...and it can be dangerous. Know your limits, be wise, and be aware of the risks. With that said, we support a protected swimming area, especially for families and any others who feel more comfortable there.

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