Lifeguard Issues Raised In Myrtle Beach SC

Is the “Dirty Myrtle” endangering swimmers?

Just because the water is dirty in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (and its surrounding environs) doesn’t mean you can’t drown in it.

If you find yourself in distress in that dirty water, you had better hope a lifeguard is on duty who is capable of rendering you assistance.

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., some are questioning whether that is the case …

According to a special report from WBTW TV 13 (CBS – Florence/ Myrtle Beach, S.C.), there are concerns that the city’s “dual-service” franchise agreements with three different beach service companies may be compromising public safety.

These agreements allow the three companies to simultaneously provide lifeguard services as well as equipment rentals and concessions – a deal that is locked in through 2025.

“I’m unaware of any other community in the U.S. that assigns their lifeguards to both rentals and public safety,” the head of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) told the station.

Hmmmm … the perils of privatization?

(Click to view)

(Via: Getty Images)

Perhaps … although we have never bothered to think whether taxpayer-subsidized lifeguards keeping watch over public beaches are a core function of government.

Our initial thought on that? No.

Swim at your own risk, people.

Assuming you believe this is something government ought to do, though, how should it be done?

Personally, we have no issue with municipalities farming out lifeguarding services to the private sector – and allowing these private providers to peddle their (beach) wares in the process. Obviously we rebuke the idea of exclusive retail agreements for particular providers who are operating on public property, but in a general sense the “Myrtle Beach model” of lifeguarding/ renting/ concession-ing does not give us heartburn.

Maybe it should. And maybe it will as we become educated in greater detail on the subject. We have heard a few reports about shady behavior associated with these deals …

For now, though, as long as Myrtle Beach is requiring its lifeguard providers to adhere to specified safety parameters (which the providers insist they are not only meeting but exceeding) we see no issue with the basic arrangment.



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