Calvin Stevens Jr., a new parking attendant, rode his Segue up on the seawall. As he went through his normal routine of helping people park, answering questions about the island and serving generally as a tourist ambassador, he noticed something out of the ordinary. Looking down at the 53rd Street groin, he noticed a young man inside the no-swimming area.

Calvin is new to the job, but he’s no stranger to Galveston or the beach. His father, Calvin Stevens Sr., has worked with me in the park board system since the late ‘80s. He works as a supervisor in the Coastal Zone Management Department. He is very conscientious and serious about his work. Apparently, this rubbed off on his son as well.

Calvin Stevens Jr. impressed me at a recent training we put together for “De-escalation and Self-defense Techniques.” I helped the world-renowned Grand Master Ishmael Robles teach this course and noticed that Calvin Jr. was really focused and serious while still enjoying himself.

As Calvin Jr. saw the young man in the no swimming area he waved and yelled telling him not to go any deeper because it was dangerous and pointed at the signs the guy had walked around. The guy heard him but turned around and waded out into the water anyway. Calvin Jr. quickly called his supervisor and told him to call beach patrol on the radio. As soon as the guy started walking deeper than his waist he dropped into the hole by the groin and was quickly carried out by the rip current. He struggled briefly then submerged.

Our rescue truck was only four blocks away and pulled up within seconds. They saw the guy collapsed on the shoreline. He had drifted out and around the groin and back to shore. He was laying there having trouble breathing and vomiting repeatedly. Our crew stabilized him and got him quickly into an ambulance. He survived and was released from the hospital the next morning.

Calvin Jr. has no responsibility to watch the water. He’s definitely busy enough dealing with the hundreds of tourists he comes in contact with each day. But he paid attention when we mentioned the issues with rip currents we have along the seawall. And he was alert and conscientious enough to notice the problem and do something about it.

One thing we’ve been trying to focus on in the park board is cross-training and increasing communication between departments with the goal of creating a broader network of support for tourists and locals alike. The beach patrol now teaches all parking attendants, park staff and others first aid and CPR. Along with that, we cover topics like how to spot people in trouble and what to do. This de-escalation/self-defense course was a trial that we want to repeat with the park staff. And now we are scheduling park staff to join for the rip current presentation of our upcoming Wave Watchers community program.

With people like Calvin Stevens Jr., this type of teamwork is a natural fit. What a great person to represent Galveston!

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity.

(1) comment

Curtiss Brown

Thanks, sounds like a standup guy. Guess he'd have to be in a Segway.

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