LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Fire Department plans to reopen its popular Junior Lifeguard program this summer — but in a modified form, in keeping with pandemic-era concerns.
County Fire, which oversees the larger County Lifeguard program, made the announcement on March 16, a little more than a month after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors requested a report on reopening the program.
The report from LACoFD Chief Daryl Osby, dated March 8, outlines mask use, screening practices, sanitization practices, social distancing plans, staffing, and a new student-to-instructor ratio of 20:1, cutting the previous ration down by a third.
The Junior Lifeguard program, whose members are colloquially known as JGs, teaches young people, ages 9 through 17, beach and ocean safety skills. JGs are trained in swimming, body surfing, surfing, physical conditioning, first aid, rescue, CPR, and lifesaving equipment use.
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents L.A. County’s Fourth District, struck a jubilant tone in a statement released to the press.
“This program means so much to so many families. I knew if we could figure out a way to do it safely, we owed it to our kids to get the Junior Lifeguard program back up and running this year,” Hahn said. “This is one of those programs that really opens up doors for kids. You would be surprised how many of our L.A. County Lifeguards got their start as Junior Guards.”
“As the community slowly incorporates safety protocols and guidelines into how we will operate now and into the future, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is pleased to be able to allow more opportunities for residents, especially our youth, to return to activities that bring them joy, sharpen their skills, and restore a sense of normalcy,” Osby said in a statement.
The program plans to begin contacting returning JG program participants this week, and new applications will be available through LACoFD’s website starting in April.