Lifeguards busier than usual with normal-size crowds over holiday

La Jolla Shores, the scene of more than 100 rescues over the busy three-day Fourth of July holiday weekend, was one of the busier stretches of shoreline with coastal crowd sizes  “about normal," but the number of rescues, medical aids and preventative acts performed by lifeguards tripled the activity of the past two years.

Lifeguards performed an estimated 372 rescues on Monday, July 4, according to a report issued by San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque, who noted the busiest stretch of shoreline was Mission Beach, with about 160,000 people. But statistics showed there were more rescues at La Jolla Shores than any other single area, with about 60,000 people at that beach on Independence Day.

Lifeguard Sgt. John Sandmeyer reported there were approximately 160 rescues at La Jolla Shores on Sunday, more than 110 on Monday and more than 80 similar rescues by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Noting ocean conditions created strong rip currents at La Jolla shores, San Diego lifeguard chief Rick Wurts pointed out the reason for such a large number of rescues there was likely its being a popular family beach, meaning there were probably more children and novice swimmers there than elsewhere along the shoreline.

Preliminary tallies show lifeguards performed 738 water rescues over the three-day weekend, compared

with 231 last year and 284 in 2009, according to Luque. Additionally, he said there were an estimated 717 medical aids this year, compared to 298 and 435 in the previous two years, respectively.

Also, preventive acts such as warning speeding boaters, making public announcements about rip currents and contacting swimmers to prevent careless or dangerous activity were up markedly, tripling to 15,341 this year compared with 5,524 in 2010 and 5,890 in 2009, Luque said.



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