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With Larger Crowds Packing Beaches, New Jersey Town Opts To Put Volunteer Medical Director On Staff

LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A Jersey Shore town is taking lifeguarding to the next level with new life-saving tactics.

The beach in Long Branch was especially packed for a Monday, a sign that summer is in full swing. Beach manager Daniel George told CBS2's Meg Baker each year requires more patrols and training.

"We have a tremendous amount of new development along the Long Branch beaches, and therefore more people are coming. And with bigger crowds come bigger responsibilities," George said.

That's why this year Long Branch is the first shore town in Monmouth County to put a volunteer medical director on staff.

Long Branch, N.J. lifeguards
Long Branch, New Jersey lifeguards (Photo: CBS2)

"Us getting a medical director allows our EMTs on the beachfront to carry these life-saving medications that we can administer in a second. We're talking about EpiPens. We're talking about Narcan. Albuterol, aspirin for chest pain. All the things we couldn't do in the past we can do now," assistant beach manager Chris Keipner said.

The beach in Long Branch stretches for four miles. It's divided into three zones, all staffed with EMTs.

"We have over 130 lifeguards on the beachfront and we have a group of 12 EMTs," George said.

On Monday, lifeguards performed a training exercise, swimming out to a person in distress and bringing him in for medical attention. Last year, they made more than 800 actual water rescues. If a victim goes under they now have a rapid response team, including certified SCUBA divers.

"God forbid if we have someone go under and we can't find, within one or two minutes we can go in with tanks and go under down to the bottom or in the jetty rocks and be able to respond to someone before it's a recovery," George said.

Long Branch beach patrol responded to more than 100 major medicals last year -- allergic reactions, chest pains and more. These lifeguards say they are just as quick out of the water as they are in it.

In 2002, Long Branch had 40 lifeguards and one EMT. Now, there are more than 130 lifeguards, and 12 EMTs.

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