In his 40 years working as a lifeguard in Huntington Beach, Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis has never seen so many stingray injuries in one day.
The record number of people who hobbled up the beach and sought care, soaking their feet in scorching hot water to ease the pain on Friday, Dec. 29: 73 victims.
“We’re infested,” Panis said. “That’s just how many we treated. In my 40 years, that’s as many as I’ve had in a single day. It’s a problem.”
Extreme low tides, small surf, and warmish water in the low 60s – combined with holiday crowds in town and off work and school – have contributed to the spike in sting rays, Panis said.
“It’s just a formula for disaster,” he said.
The previous day, on Thursday, there were 45 injuries, also an unusually high number of reports.
Rather than have lifeguard trucks respond with gallons of hot water they carry around, lifeguards on Friday set up a sting ray station at their headquarters, with chairs and buckets set up for a line of people seeking relief.
“They were just coming through the door rapid fire,” he said.
The same first-aid station will be available on Saturday and Sunday.
Panis said he reached out to the permit holder of…