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HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMIAMI) – An ex-Navy diver who helped recover victims of Hurricane Katrina, a champion surfer and five former members of the Cuban National Water Polo team.

Those were just a few of the men on duty Monday as Hallandale Beach’s newest city paid lifeguards.

Formerly, the city had a contract with the Jeff Ellis Management Company to provide lifeguards for its beaches and pools, but the company decided not to renew after it received negative publicity for firing a lifeguard who left his patrol zone to assist in saving a life.

After the termination of Tomas Lopez, several other lifeguards quit as a sign of support. The company would later admit it made and error in firing Lopez. They offered him and the other guards who quit their jobs back, but all refused.

Hallandale Beach officials said they had 209 qualified applicants apply for the positions and they tested 135 of them. They were then put to a skills test administered by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) which included completing 500-meter swim within 10 minutes, doing a 200-meter run, followed by a timed 50-meter swim to rescue a person in distress and then bringing that person to shore to where they had to perform proper a CPR technique.

Seventy of the applicants passed that rigorous test. The city said under Jeff Ellis Management only five of their guards were able to pass the USLA test.

The beach lifeguards will be part of the Hallandale Beach Fire-Rescue Department while the municipal swimming pool Lifeguards will fall under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department


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