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Lifeguards train for open water rescues

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - Swim risks were high again along Lake Michigan on Tuesday, and lifeguards are facing the choppy waves for training.

That’s because they’re not protecting people from your normal everyday body of water. Lifeguards from three different beaches along the lakeshore are diving in to learn advanced life-saving techniques.

With 2020 marking Lake Michigan’s deadliest year for drownings in the past decade, the need for lake ready lifeguards is greater than ever.

“There’s a lot more hazards in the open water than in the pool and in some instances you may be using the dangerous currents to get out to a drowning victim,” says Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project Director Dave Benjamin. “So, if they’re being pulled out in a rip current, you might take that same rip current out to get them.”

Tuesday’s high swim risk is keeping most beachgoers out of the water, but these lifeguards have to be ready to save a life no matter the conditions.

“If someone’s drowning, the conditions aren’t going to depend on you,” says Bethany Beach Life Guard Andrew Seelig. “It could be cold and someone will drown, it could be warm and someone will drown. You have to be ready for anything.”

Many of these lifeguards go through weekly training, but the work they’re doing with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project keeps some of these advanced techniques fresh.

“It’s very important because most of us are seasonal workers,” says Silver Beach Head Guard Taylor Humphrey. “We only work in the summer, so it’s a good refresher. It’s good to stay up to date with the new information that comes.”

These lifeguards come from New Buffalo Beach, Bethany Beach, and Silver Beach.

They’ll bring back what they’ve learned to the rest of their staff keeping people safe up and down the coastline.

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