Keeping our beaches safe
Photography by Deborah McCarthy
Sitting at the beach all day seems like an easy job but it’s actually, well… no day at the beach. Being a DCR lifeguard requires you sit in the heat watching the beach with no occasional relief of the mundaneness with a quick check of twitter or snap chat. Phones are not allowed. There is no napping; no reading of books;no fraternizing with friends. You must be ready to spring into action when a situation arises. From administering first aid, to saving lives, South Boston lifeguards are at the ready. It’s their job and they take it seriously. Brighdy McDonough has been a lifeguard on the South Boston DCR beaches for the past six years and she does it with professionalism and a smile on her face. Sitting high atop the lifeguard chair, wearing her red uniform proudly, she keeps her eyes focused on the beach.
She is the head lifeguard which means not only is she on beach patrols but she leads the physical training for 26 guards each day, creates the daily schedule of which guard watches which beach, and conducts in-service training where they handle issue from the day before and how they can better handle them in the future. “Situations arise from children missing from their families to the opposite spectrum to sometime even domestic disputes erupting on the beach,” says Brighdy.
Since the Boston Harbor beaches have been cleaned up back in the early 90’s, people are flocking in droves to South Boston beaches. Watching the beaches on a sunny weekend in South Boston is no joke. “You have to be alert, especially when lots of people are in the water. We ask our lifeguards to patrol the shoreline especially when there are large groups of children in the water like camp groups. We will also take the kayak or rescue board if people are swimming out too far.” Lifeguards must be certified in lifeguard training, CPR and first aid training. They must also pass a test that includes swimming 500 yards in less than 9.30 minutes, receiving a 10 lb. object from 10ft or water, rescuing a passive victim, an active victim and a submerged victim. They must also pass a written exam. The young adults watching the beaches of South Boston are fully trained and ready to help.
Q&A with Bridghy
One word to describe each Southie beach:
- M St: popular
- Carson: interesting
- Castle Island: crowded
Which is your favorite beach to work?
Pleasure Bay is my favorite.
Funniest thing that has every happened at work?
There is a regular who has earned the title of “Speedo man” because he stands directly in front of the lifeguard stand and does yoga in a speedo.
A man had a seizure and landed on his face on the boardwalk. We made sure he was safe and called 911. After he came out of the seizure, we kept him calm until the EMTs arrived.
The best part of lifeguarding?
The best part is going to work and being able to sit outside and swim.
The worst part?
The worst part is the stress of something potentially happening and having to deal with the problems that do arise. The worst part can also be sitting outside all day in the heat. Not as easy as it sounds.
Have you ever had to save anyone that was drowning?
Fortunately, no. But in the past six years, there have been multiple saves by other guards I have worked with and they handled the rescues well.
Tip for beach goers?
The scoop on Brighdy:
- Lifelong Southie resident
- Lives on East 7th Street
- Has a twin sister Cate
- Mom Michelle and dad Paul
- Went to Gate of Heaven School. Graduated from Boston Latin School. This fall she will be as Senior at UMass Amherst.
- She is a film major
- Interns at CBS local
- Favorite restaurant in Southie – Mul’s. “I love breakfast food.”
Brighdy and the rest of the dedicated DCR lifeguards are committed to making your trip to the beach enjoyable and most importantly, safe. With a month left of summer, make sure to thank your neighborhood lifeguards!