To the Editor:
Interesting to me that a lifeguard of 45 years - Chief Johnson of Wildwood Crest - would mention getting lighter aluminum chairs when they started hiring females to guard. My girls have to be able to pull the same big people out of the surf as the guys.
Being a guard, one has to do what everyone else does, male/female; there's no "lighter" anything for the girls. Why doesn't he get them aluminum surf boats?
Female or male, like the military, everyone pulls their weight, or someone else's for that matter. Does he trust one of his girls will be able to make a rescue by herself, or will she need a male to accompany her?
Rescues are practiced individually for a reason. Yes, there are times and sea conditions when manpower merits two or more guards to assist, but if you're on your own, you need to be able to make the appropriate rescue and administer first aid/CPR as needed.
The chief needs to apologize to his females for throwing them under the boat with the lame "light stands for the females" excuse. I'm sure his females are quite capable if trained correctly and in good condition. I assure you; they would be if they were trained by me.
The chief went so far as to say they were trying to avoid an injury. Come on, man. Up north, we drag the stands from the dune line to the high watermark in the morning and drag them back to the dunes at the end of the day. It teaches team building and working together.
What about launching the boat? That takes a few guards, and that puppy isn't light. Maybe up north, we have the old traditions of riding the pine, taking them into storage in winter, and giving them a paint job.
One last thing for Chief Johnson to take to bed: His remark about metal/aluminum not attracting lightning; why then do buildings have lightning rods attached to the tops of the buildings at their highest point?
Don't get me wrong here, a friend of mine was struck and killed 20 years ago almost to the day of the incident in Berkley Township. My friend had a metal watch on, and the hit was claimed to have come from 5 miles offshore, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
The guard last month was probably just a high target, but I will not discount the chair not having an attracting allure to the scenario and if you want to further the discussion, the wooden chairs are riddled with metal nails. Still, I would not put a metal or aluminum chair and have my guys sitting 7 feet higher than anything else on the beach sitting on a lightning rod.
Without mentioning "my" beaches up north, when we need new chairs, our local lumberyards (dating myself) were more than happy to give us the wood, and more often than not, some guys would build them for us. It's also a great Eagle Scout project.
Stay well, watch your water, train often, and swim every day.