Holland State Park Safety Commission

Howard Fink, Park Township Manager, is on the Safety Commission and gave the presentation. The commission was formed about 2 years ago with the goal of reducing the number of drownings at the State Park to zero. Some of the changes that they have made already include the gate across the pier, life rings, water safety brochures at local hotels, and electric signs. The gate across the pier will prevent people from going out when there is danger. Howard noted that this design of pier is not intended for people to walk on. The life rings at the State Park automatically dial 911 when they are removed from their holders.
One of the major causes is rip currents and the inability of swimmers to correctly recover from being caught in one. The pier is under the control of the Army Corp of Engineers. The commission has convinced the Army Corp to do a major study on pier creation of rip tides. They have buried sensors by the pier to measure the water's behavior.
The Army Corps usually emphasizes working on research for boat travel, so this study for swimmers is a victory for the commission. Howard showed some of the videos, taken by drone, of how the rip currents form. You can see how a NW wind pushes the waves into and away from the pier. This creates channels in the sand that direct the current in circles away from the beach.
With the closing of the Holland Coast Guard station Park Township is asking for a new milage to fund expanded water rescue capabilities. They are hoping to be able to utilize the former Coast Guard dock.
Some of the other goals of the commission include: cameras to watch the swimming area to detect swimmers in distress, payload capable drones to carry life saving devices to people in the water, and trying to convince the State of Michigan to fund life guards for state parks on the Great Lakes.