‘We’ve been on patrol since 7 a.m.’: Local lifeguards were prepared for busy Labor Day crowd

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Every year during Labor Day weekend, it’s always a busy time at our local beaches.

Many residents and visitors alike made their way down to Jacksonville Beach to enjoy the sand and cool off in the water.

STORY: Jacksonville families hosting smaller, local gatherings this Labor Day

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke to Lt. Max Ervanian, the prevention and training officer, who said they were prepared for big crowds this weekend and had been on patrol since 7 a.m.

“I got in the water, got my feet wet and took pictures,” said Earl Choice.

“It felt wonderful! It felt really good. Not really too hot, but the perfect temperature, I would say,” Rose Choice told Cole.

Husband and wife Earl and Rose Choice told Cole they’re visiting Jacksonville Beach from South Carolina.

“She didn’t know she was coming here. I just told her to pack and come,” Earl Choice said.

“I’ve been enjoying my birthday out at the beach, eating some great food, so it’s been really, really nice. My husband has done a really good job … really good job,” Rose Choice said.

STORY: DCPS mask mandate goes into effect Tuesday

Whether you’re from out of town or a resident, Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue was prepared to welcome you this holiday weekend.

“The Volunteer Lifesaving Corp has lifeguards up and down the entire Jacksonville Beach area. We have the beach staff to ensure appropriate and quick emergency response in all areas,” said Lt. Ervanian.

Ervanian, said there are 38 lifeguards on staff — the same number as last year. So they’re grateful COVID-19 has not impacted their ability to keep beachgoers safe.

“Not only do we have lifeguard towers out, but we’re also doing continuous emergency vehicle truck patrols throughout the beach area, to even protect those areas that are not staffed with lifeguard towers,” Ervanian said.

The Lt. said official staff their lifeguards based on available personnel and current conditions.

“It’s still a busy season; however, it’s no longer the summer season. So we have a lot of our lifeguards [that] have gone back to school. We have a lot of our lifeguards that went back out of town to their real jobs because they no longer have leave time to be out here lifeguarding. So we have just expanded the area between lifeguard towers,” Ervanian told Action News Jax.

STORY: Lake City Fire Chief loses battle against COVID-19

This is why Ervanian wanted to stress the importance of swimming near a lifeguard.

“Swim to their ability, swim in front of a lifeguard, and never swim alone,” said Ervanian.

Earl and Rose Choice told Cole they saw a lifeguard at one of their posts during their visit and that it’s safe to say they’ll be back.

“Happy birthday to my wonderful, beautiful wife. And I hope that she enjoyed this weekend here in Jacksonville, because I did with her,” Earl Choice lovingly said to his wife.

Rose Choice responded back sweetly with a, “Aw, thank you, darlin!”

The couple weren’t the only ones who enjoyed themselves out there on the beach today. But even with the crowds, Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue said they had nine water rescues this holiday weekend — and none today.