The first day I worked for the Beach Patrol was in 1983. I stood in the sand early in the morning waiting to get my radio, which was passed to me out of our “headquarters” — a smallish trailer in the sand next to the old pavilion on Stewart Beach.

There were 17 of us on staff and we worked six or seven days a week for about 10 hours a day with no organized breaks and no formal training.

Back in ’83 we had no Junior Lifeguard Program, no daily training exercises, no lifeguard academy, no classroom space, very minimal community outreach programming, and no real equipment that needed to be stored on the beach.

But even back then we knew the importance of having our headquarters, as humble as it was, on the beach. People needed a central location right on the beach that was close to the action. They needed a first aid station and a place to hand out daily equipment.

Fast forward 36 years. Our staff tops out at 135 during the summer. We have five jet skis, 12 patrol vehicles, a boat and three UTV’s. We have space to hold equipment for work and training; and a classroom for a Junior Lifeguard Program of 125 that is on the beach so they can bounce back and forth between lectures and skills practice.

Lifeguard training programs include a two-week long lifeguard academy, dispatch training, Supervisor/Senior Guard Academy, CPR, Emergency Medical Response and much more. Most of this involves running from the classroom to the beach and back repeatedly.

Online courses are held by computer for National Incident Command, Boater Safety, EMT and Law Enforcement recertification. We do classroom/beach courses for at-risk, other first responders, and surf camp instructors.

And every day before the lifeguards pick up their equipment they run, swim, paddle, and practice skills in the water, on the shoreline, and in the nearby classroom.

Our headquarters, like pretty much every headquarters for reputable beach life-saving programs around the planet, is right on the most populated beach. That way we can provide first aid and tourist information while acting as a resource and an informal tourist office for the city.

Our dispatchers have a bird’s-eye view on the busiest beach on the island and can spot for lost children, water emergencies, and problems developing, while keeping an eye on the lifeguards in the area to make sure they’re safe.

For those who don’t spend time on the busy beaches during the busy times its difficult to fathom the volume we deal with, how busy it is, and what an important role the lifeguard plays in keeping everyone safe.

For those who do, and who see all the training and structure required to get this done, it makes sense that we need to have our headquarters where its been for the past decades. If we were not right there on the beach, and on a busy beach, we’d be far less effective in serving the public in such a manner.

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

(11) comments

Rusty Schroeder

For $4 million I could build you a headquarters with everything you wish, I could do it for $2 million, but because it is on the Galveston beach the price is double. Still, a 12' to 16' storm surge wont save it from damage from a hurricane. The slab and structure would still be there, I don't think anyone could truly guarantee the rest.

Jarvis Buckley

Remodel & redesign the existing structure. For administration & beach
Maintance & beach patrol facilities.
The 25 million is rediculous request &
Will never be approved . If it is a lot of heads gonna roll.

Jarvis Buckley

In my opinion spend a fraction of 25 million to restore the existing structure & develop a maintenance plan to keep it viable. It can be remodeled to meet present day needs . Everyone appreciates the job Peter does , but I for one don't understand why he's out front on this issue.

Kent Beardsley

Who in these comments are Structural Engineers and or have and Architectural back ground?

Rusty Schroeder

I've built several buildings using Hurricane Andrew guidelines for 156 mph winds, have you ?

Kent Beardsley

That why I ask trying to avoid Arm Chair Quarter Back comments as peoples profession are not listed

Rusty Schroeder

I am not an engineer, structural or physical, although I have had a license in architectural design in landscaping. :) I know how to read plans and construct from the base to the roof, I have built and I have contracted out. I've worked with engineers my whole life, from the County of Galveston to NASA to DOW. Some were very hands on and knowledgeable of the job, some weren't worth the ink on their degree. I'll let you guess who the one's with my latter description worked for. :) :) I seriously could build a state of the art building for $4 Million, 60' x 100' 2 storied with 2 breakaway outbuildings for boat and waverunner storage. Because those will be evacuated to higher ground in case of approaching storm. Unless of course we use GC Mosquito Control evacuation procedures pre Hurricane Ike, then they will have to be recovered from the roof of the Bishop's Palace or the Moody Mansion, whichever they catch onto last. I don't think that scenario will ever happen though, I am pretty sure the Beach Patrol takes good ownership of their tools. I am always impressed when I see how well they take care of their equipment, from cleanliness to working order. As an ex-fleet manager of a municipality, it is always nice to see tax payer funded equipment taken care of with ownership care.

George Croix

Build a structure like the well known one that used cubits for measure....
Office space, tourist attraction, floating for surge/flood proof....hat trick.....

Jarvis Buckley

Kent what is your background? I grew up in the steel industry & built many buildings as well as hospital annexs.
Also work on the modernization of
Hobby airport & Forthood military base. I am now & have been for many years happily retired. I read & write opinions just like you do.

Don Schlessinger

I think it's interesting someone working for the city has admitted the real reason they want the building built. To spend $25 mil for out life guards to hang out is a sin, as others have said $2-4 mil should be plenty. You can bet your *#@%s we'll not get a chance to vote on something as stupid as a Taj Mahal for life guards.

Jarvis Buckley

Brian Maxwell will never approve this.
For Peter Davis to keep on & on about this is quite frankly embarrassing.

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