Will there be lifeguards at Anastasia State Park this summer?

St. Johns County asks state to reconsider providing funding for lifeguards

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – It is still up in the air whether lifeguards will be stationed at Anastasia State Park during the summer months.

St. Johns County learned late last year that the state wasn't planning on providing funding this year, but convinced the state to reconsider. 

Each year for the last 18 years, a new contract -- between St. Johns County and the state -- has been agreed upon for the county's Fire Rescue Department to provide lifeguards at Anastasia State Park every day from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

This year, the state was considering not renewing the contract. But St. Johns County Fire Rescue Chief Carl Shank presented a memo to the county this month, asking the board chair to recommend not terminating the contract in respect for life safety. 

VIEW: Memo sent to St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners

Erin, a St. Johns County mother of three boys, told News4Jax on Tuesday that she likes the idea of lifeguards any time, but is especially supportive of them during the busy summer months. 

"Well, it's a bit of a relief, you know. You don't have to keep your eye on the water constantly for the adults that makes it a bit more relaxing," Erin said.

Other parents also said that having lifeguards at the beach would make them feel a bit more comfortable with their children swimming and playing in the ocean. 

From 2012 to 2016, the average number of incidents that Fire Rescue responded to in the Anastasia State Park beach zone was 1,885 per season, according to Shank. 

Last year, Shank reported, the incidents included two missing person calls, nine medical calls, six aquatic rescues, 944 citizen assists and 1,014 preventative actions. 

Shank said the actions taken by lifeguards could have prevented potential emergencies like drownings. 

Some parents said they aren't against lifeguard, but don't think they should take away from a parent keeping an eye on their children. 

"I think people willingly come to the beach. They willingly need to understand what the risks are," said Steve Peters, who doesn't necessarily think lifeguards are needed at Anatasia State Park. 

Fire Rescue officials were not able to provide News4Jax with a time frame for when a decision could be made on the new contract, but the park officials said it typically takes several weeks.