Wow! Hard to believe how fast summer is moving. As I write this, I’m just back in from responding to an impressive three-person rescue by Capt. Tony Pryor and lifeguard Santiago Martinez at 39th Street. Looks like one of two children may have stepped off a sandbar into deeper water and his dad and sister tried to help him, and they ended up all having trouble.
Fortunately, Martinez showed up just in time for his shift and Pryor was right there with his response. And this is just one of many similar incidents that have happened recently. I, for one, will be really happy when we get into a calmer water pattern as we get into the summer season.
So far, we’ve been extraordinarily busy this season. Weekends have been incredibly full. The beaches are packed from the East Beach Park all the way to the tip of the San Luis Pass. We’ve been barely staying on top of things with our whole staff stretched to the limit.
I’m so proud of our lifeguards who show up early to train before work, work a full day, then some of them are out in the middle of the night responding to boating accidents, lost people, possible drownings and all kinds of summer madness.
Thanks to the safety net of the beach patrol, fire departments, police, sheriff’s office, EMS, Wave Watchers, Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network and, on holidays, Galveston County Emergency Response Team, we’ve collectively been able to stay on top of it.
But it’s clear that there are more people using our beaches, bays and waterways than ever before. And they’re using them more of the year.
We have enough staff to stay on top of all that we’re covering, but just barely. We still have positions to fill, and as summer wears on we don’t want to burn out the good lifeguards we have now.
So, starting Monday, we’ll hold an unprecedented fifth academy of the year. If you know anyone who’s interested, we’ll hold tryouts at 7 a.m. Monday at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s field house pool and will launch right into a nine-day academy that same day.
We’ll pay for all the training candidates receive as they go through the course. And don’t forget our lifeguards just got a pay bump, so starting pay will be $14 an hour plus potential increases for being bilingual or having an EMT. Please come out and join our family.
Very soon we’ll start seeing an increase in storms that threaten the Gulf. This is a good time for a reminder that it’s hurricane season, so don’t forget to make your plan and be ready to evacuate if something looks like it’s coming this way. If you’re like my family, they plan on taking a couple trips a year to visit friends and family around Texas but just wait until the inevitable storm scare to take the trip. Good excuse for a mini vacation.
Hope to see you on the beach.