We’re in the middle of a lifeguard academy and lots more. We ended up with about 20 candidates out of the almost 40 that attempted the tryouts.

But these 20 have some pretty serious challenges ahead of them in their 100-hour course that they have to complete before being able to work the beaches.

Next week is national Beach Safety Week, and is arguably the most exciting week of the year for us. And we want you to participate.

The annual Mass Aquatic Casualty Emergency Operation (M.A.C.E.O.) drill event will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Stewart Beach. It’s designed to be a final practical test for our lifeguard academy, but has turned into something much larger through the years.

The lifeguard candidates play the part of rescuers and medical responders as they rescue and triage “victims,” who are played by the more experienced guards. As they do this, they interface with emergency responders from a myriad of other agencies.

So, they may rescue someone in conjunction with the Police Department Marine Division, bring them to shore where other candidates work with EMS and fire to triage and treat injuries. Or they may assist peace officers in gathering information or blocking off an area.

Wave Watcher volunteers will play the role of distraught family members as other volunteers from The Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network practice crisis intervention techniques.

So far it looks like agencies participating include the U.S. Coast Guard, Galveston Police and Fire departments, Jamaica Beach Fire and Rescue, Sheriff’s Office Marine Division, Galveston EMS, Wave Watchers, Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network, Galveston PD Dispatch operations, and of course the Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

After we finish, we’ll all work together to look for lessons learned and ways we can improve performance. This is a real good way to shake off the cobwebs and improve communication and operational procedures as we all head into the height of the tourist season.

In conjunction with this, the Park Board of Trustees is hosting a first-time event called “Tourism Pays.” On Stewart Beach we’ll have equipment and personnel from the park board and emergency response groups from the area. Kind of a show and tell.

Around 6:30 p.m. will be the presentation of a new award given in honor of Galveston lifesaving legend and Guinness Book of World Records record holder, Leroy Colombo. Following all of this will be hot dogs, hamburgers and fellowship for participants and the community.

Then on Wednesday, the final physical challenge for our academy will take place. Candidates and returning guards will undergo a grueling course that includes running, swimming, special exercises (torture), skills and lifesaving knowledge tests for an approximately two-hour challenge called the “night swim.” We’ll start about 5:30 p.m. and end around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. We’d love to see you at both events.

Following all this will be Memorial Weekend, so start making your plans and be sure you think about having fun, spending time with friends and family and being safe.

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.

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