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Jekyll firefighters watching sandbars
The Jekyll Island Fire Department is keeping its eyes open for beach-goers who may wander into harm's way.

Without lifeguards, firefighters regularly educate visitors to the island state park about the dangers of rip currents and sometimes even find themselves having to venture into the surf to rescue adults stranded on sandbars.

It's all in a day's work for the fire department.

"We just try to make sure everyone's safe and there's no problems or issues or anything," said Jekyll Fire Department Chief Jason Richardson.

Jekyll firefighters patrol the beach during the summer months on all terrain vehicles daily and have the ability to make a rescue effort using a kayak.

Rescue efforts take cooperation between multiple emergency response teams, said Capt. Jay Wiggins, director of the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency.

"If they ever need help with anything, we're glad to help them," Wiggins said. "When something like that happens, it's a team effort."

Other emergency personnel from agencies like the Glynn County Police Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Coast Guard are often called out when a child goes missing on the beach or a swimmer is in danger.

It's a two-way street, Wiggins said. When swimmers get caught in a rip current on St. Simons Island, he contacts Richardson on Jekyll so the department can be on the lookout for a swimmer that could be swept to the neighboring island. It helps that rental companies help get the word about the dangers of venturing to a sandbar.

But the reality is that not everyone knows what is common knowledge for most who call the Golden Isles home: Tides change quickly.

"We just keep crossing our fingers and hope that people will cooperate and use their own good judgment," Richardson said.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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