There are still plenty of swimmers and an occasional person blown offshore when these fronts come through. In fact, Tuesday, Brandon Venegas and Micah Fowler made a rescue of a kite boarder that had some equipment problems and couldn’t make it back in.
The end of the season gives us a chance to assess how we did this year and to recognize those who performed heroic acts or performed outstanding community service. On Tuesday, while the rescue was taking place, some of us were at the monthly park board meeting giving awards.
First the 54 lifeguards who worked during the storm were recognized. Since most couldn’t be there, we will save their framed certificates for our next “All Staff” meeting so they can receive them in front of their peers.
Then the guards who performed high water/urban flooding rescues were recognized. Their award is a framed certificate and a beach patrol “Challenge Coin” for meritorious acts of bravery. Those who worked the urban flooding were: Dain Buck, Joe Cerdas, Daniel Fleming, Micah Fowler, Michelle Gomez, Mason Healy, Austin Kirwin, Gave Macicek, Sam Toth, Alec Vaughn, Tyler Vaughn, Brandon Venegas, Tony Pryor, myself, the park board’s Coastal Zone Management Department’s Larry Smith and Joey Walker.
There were three rescues that really stood out this summer. The first was an incredible spot and rescue by Juan Figueroa from 37th Street of a group of three in the rip current at 33rd Street. He rescued one that was actively submerging.
The second was a group of three way out by the Pleasure Pier T-head spotted by our lieutenant of administration on her way home from the office. She swam out through large, choppy surf and stabilized the group at the head of the rip current until Joe Cerdas made it out on a rescue board and brought them one by one through the surf. Few people could have made the spot of those little heads way out close to the west side of the pier as they drove east to west. Even fewer could have managed to power through that nasty, rough surf and brought people in without mishap through the same surf while navigating around the rip.
The final one also occurred as a very nice spot from the 37th Street tower to the rip at 33rd Street early in the morning before all the guards were out. David Garcia called it in and ran down to find two groups of three. He kept one group afloat, which included an unconscious man. I arrived first with lifeguard Camilo Murillo. Murillo went to the second group and was later assisted by Hallie Pauling, bringing all three to safety. Garcia passed the unconscious person to me, brought two to shore, returned to help me bring the last one in as I gave rescue breaths.
All in all, this is one of the busiest seasons we’ve had with rough conditions and big crowds most of the summer. But, as always, our crew rose to the occasion.