Swimmers and surfers putting first responders at-risk during Maria

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — As Tropical Storm Maria passes by the waves in Virginia Beach are making it very dangerous to be in the water.

Tuesday morning, a call went out to rescue a swimmer in distress along 26th Street at the Oceanfront. EMS told 10 On Your Side the man got out on his own but needed medical attention.

While out on the beach later in the day, another man was spotted surfing, despite red flags flying. 10 On Your Side spoke with EMS officials who say that every time people ignore the warnings they put not only themselves at-risk, but also first responders.

“I have two little kids that you know I tell them I’m going to come home everyday,” says Virginia Beach EMS Brigade Chief Mike Lewis.

Chief Lewis puts himself at-risk because its his job, but days like this make its twice as demanding and dangerous.

Debris can also be an issue because you can’t see what’s in these waves, including large branches and rip currents. Even the strongest lifeguards will likely struggle.

“I do have employees working for me ranging in age from 16 to 48, so I have to keep everything in mind and make sound decisions to keep everybody safe,” says Captain Cat Watson, who is responsible for lifeguards at Sandbridge. If one goes out and doesn’t come back, “Yes, I would have to live with that, yes, absolutely.”

So as the weather worsens they may decide it’s too dangerous to even try a rescue leaving swimmers and surfers out there on their own.

EMS has responded to eight water rescues since Saturday. They took two people to the hospital but no first responders were hurt, so far.