Prank drownings, false alarms could put lives and resources at risk

Emerald Isle lifeguards (Photo: WCTI)

A fake drowning reported Wednesday afternoon should serve as a reminder to community members that pranks like this can put people in danger, officials say.

As more people head to the beach, Emerald Isle officials want beachgoers to remember that resources are limited, so an innocent prank can put the lives of several people on the line.

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The red flags were up in Emerald Isle on Wednesday – a caution that the water may not be safe for swimming. Around 1 p.m., officials say they were called to a juvenile distressed in the water. When rescuers got there, they say they learned the child was playing a prank.

Emerald Isle Search and Rescue Coordinator William Matthias says it takes a team of 15 for each rescue call, including fire, EMS and law enforcement. They use equipment including jet skis and surfboards whenever they respond, and Matthias says resources are limited. When they are used due to a prank, Matthias says it could determine if someone truly in need of help lives or dies.

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