2009-08-07 / Letters

Appreciating Lifeguards

Dear Editor,

In NYC we have appreciation days and parades for just about every group known to man. Has there ever been a Lifeguard Appreciation Day or parade? Or even a thank you from a drowning victim? The only time there is ever public acknowledgment that Rockaway lifeguards even exist is when something goes drastically wrong, and then it is the lifeguard's fault. It is never the fault of the victim who fails to read the signs explaining the danger of the currents and rips, or who chooses to repeatedly ignore the whistles or the signals (to come in, etc) of the lifeguard. We never read that sometimes the same "victim" is pulled out of water two, three or even four times in one day. We only read the negative comments from those, usually sitting on the beach, who have the luxury of second guessing the lifeguards' responses.

To the casual observer, it looks like these lifeguards have a great summer job, just sitting on the beach with their friends. Wouldn't that be great if it was really that easy! Every

one would want this job. But, of course, not everyone would qualify for this job! As a grandparent of four Rockaway surf lifeguards, I want to publicly thank ALL the New York City and Gateway lifeguards for the job they do every day! I want to thank them for showing up at work, keeping an eye on all the beach goers, pulling out those grateful and ungrateful patrons and especially for keeping themselves and each other safe!

So next time you are sitting on the beach, why don't you say thank you to the lifeguard who tells you to come in a little closer to the shore, even if you think you are a better swimmer than you really are? Say thank you when they pull out that ungrateful, obnoxious person who tried, in a panic, to use the lifeguard as a life preserver and then curses them when safely back on shore. Say thank you, we appreciate you and all you do to keep all of us safe while we enjoy a day at the beach! I know I'm grateful to have qualified lifeguards watching me!

JOAN FEENEY

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I am in complete agreement with Joan Feeney. Lifeguards are indeed the unsung heroes of Rockaway Beach.To the best of my knowledge the Parks Department keeps no records of the countless lives that are saved by these brave men and women who rush into the ocean with only a small flotation device and a heart full of courage. The Lifeguard Corps of the City of New York are the thin orange line that stands between the bathers and the raging sea. We would do well to give them the respect and gratitude that they deserve. Sincerely, Ed Shevlin


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