Here’s how Beach Patrol operates on a normal day:
7:15 a.m.: “A Shift” supervisor truck calls in service. As they patrol, they put up the appropriate colored flags at the five seawall locations, post the flag color and any special advisories on the website, report the rip current threat level to the National Weather Service Houston/Galveston Office. They also pick up a jet ski at our headquarters and bring it to 61st Street and sand in case we get emergency calls around that part of the island.
7:30 a.m.: “A” shift lifeguards and dispatchers show up at the office. Dispatchers run through a series of morning checks while the guards run out on the beach for a 45-minute training session that includes physical and mental practices. For example, they may swim, practice rescue board techniques, then run through hand signals or CPR.
8 a.m.: Junior lifeguards ages 10 and 11 show up at either the beach or pool. They swim, have a classroom session, run out to the beach for beach exercises, come back up for class and run back down to the water for another water session. They go back and forth from the classroom to the waterfront multiple times in their four hours session.
9:15 a.m.: “A” shift guards are back from their workout, have been issued radios and flag bags, and head out to their towers. Once there, they put up the two flags — one is the Beach Patrol logo and the other whatever the warning flag color of the day is. After that, they check the water in their area to see where the danger spots like strong currents or holes are. They’ll do this again halfway through their shift because all can change quickly. These are more senior lifeguards, so they’ll end up doing lunch breaks once the later shift shows up at their towers. Each four towers is staffed by one “A” and three “C” shift guards.
11 a.m.: “B” shift supervisors arrive and help patrol the beachfront since it’s normally getting busy and one truck isn’t enough to cover. A few guards come in this shift as well. On weekends, two drive out west, pick up a UTV from the West End fire station and patrol the San Luis Pass.
11:45 a.m.: “C” shift guards show up and go do their daily training on the beach. When they finish, some go to the towers and some stay up in headquarters to clean before going out. When they all get out, all 32 towers are covered.
1 p.m.: Second class of junior guards shows up for their four-hour session.
1:30 p.m.: “C” shift of supervisors shows up and, after checking trucks’ equipment, head out to cover all six zones. The “B” shift supervisor truck heads out to cover the 18 miles of West End.
5 p.m.: “A” shift gets off work and the junior guards go home.
8:30 p.m.: “C” shift guards off duty.
9:30 p.m.: “C” shift supervisors off duty and late shift dispatchers leave.
9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.: “On call” supervisor stands by to respond to emergencies.