A lifeguard on the North Shore of Oahu is using Instagram to raise concerns about the potential consequences of ocean-safety officers generally not working before 9 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. under their current contracts.
Freddy Booth posted a pair of long comments this week after a a 53-year-old visitor from Maryland drowned around 6 p.m. Sunday at Waimea Bay.
The deceased was identified as Scott Orbach. Bystanders brought him ashore and then Honolulu firefighters took over resuscitation efforts. Waves were reportedly triple overhead at the time, and a high surf warning was in effect.
“A lot of Lifeguards are not the type to complain. Most of us are humble and thankful, appreciating the simple things in life and doing the best with what we have to work with,” Booth wrote in a post Tuesday on Instagram.
“However there is a serious problem people don’t see. Our lineups, and our beaches are growing nonstop with both locals and tourists alike. Secret spots are not secret anymore, and spots that never needed towers are in desperate need nowadays,” he told his 157,000 followers.
“Did you know that most Lifeguards don’t start work until 9am and finish at 530pm. Most of us get a full surf in before work and a full session after. That means so is everyone else. Two of the most beautiful and crucial times of day for our residents and visitors to be at the beach go by unwatched and unprotected.”
The notion of expanding lifeguards’ hours to cover dawn and dusk is being discussed, but there hasn’t been much movement on it yet.
“It’s an idea that we’re thinking about, but we’re not there yet,” Honolulu Ocean Safety spokeswoman Shayne Enright said in a recent interview. “Anytime you can have a lifeguard on scene dramatically increases one’s chance of survival.”