Happy New Year! We’ve been systematically working on finishing repairs to our lifeguard towers, replacing signage and rescue boxes, and a bunch of training. Some of the training includes a report writing course, Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Training, and Swift Water Rescue Training Certification.

Before we hit the beach in earnest, we also have planned to do some law enforcement training, put the crew through a death notification course, make sure everyone is a Certified Tourist Ambassador, and get everyone certified as first aid and CPR instructors.

We recently made a promotion to a sergeant position, which has been really helpful in getting all of this accomplished. Long-time Beach Patrol lifeguard Austin Kirwin has stepped into the spot and has, in a very short time, become the glue that holds the troops together.

Austin is a fourth generation Galvestonian who recently returned from a stint oversees with the Texas Air National Guard. He graduated from Ball High School, where he was captain of both the swim and the water polo teams. He started working as a lifeguard while still at Ball High.

He then studied history at the University of Texas in Austin and started working for his uncle, Henry Beall, as an electrician assistant during the winter breaks. In 2011, Austin started working for Beach Patrol, and we put him through the Law Enforcement Academy. He became a peace officer/EMT/Lifeguard Supervisor in 2012.

Austin loves serving the community he grew up in. He likes Beach Patrol because it gives him the opportunity to be of service to the community and its visitors in an environment that he enjoys. He’s an adrenaline junky and an incredible athlete, so the rescue side of the job is a good fit. But he also enjoys mentoring and training the next generation of guards and helping those in need.

Lifeguard Sport is a tool we use to keep our crew in top condition. There are many different pieces to this, but Austin has been drawn to, and is proficient in, the Surf Boat event. This is a two-person row boat designed for waves and the surf environment.

It’s the most “macho” of the Lifeguard Sport disciplines and requires an unusual mix of fearlessness and technique. Austin can be found early many mornings charging the surf in this 300-pound monstrosity with whatever poor fool he can convince to join him. Between rowing, rugby and his normal swim/run/paddle/weight workouts, he keeps both busy and in top condition for lifesaving.

Austin has really impressed me ever since he first went through our lifeguard academy, which he now supervises. He’s smart, direct, motivated, fearless, and is all about the team and the mission. And his commitment to Beach Patrol and lifesaving are a credit to us, the Park Board, and the city of Galveston.

Austin says, “I’m thankful to Beach Patrol, because it has taught me to never quit and keep my skills honed, whether I’m rescuing someone or doing anything else in life.”

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

Paula Flinn

Congratulations to this young man. I remember him as a hard-working, respectful student in high school. He is very deserving! Best to you in your career!

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