(May 22, 2015) We always get excited around this time of year when we realize that the summer is upon us. This summer is an especially exciting time for the beach patrol and the Ocean City community.
The new beach patrol main headquarters building on Talbot Street is well underway and will be a fitting landmark as people enter the downtown area. It is a definite enhancement to the neighborhood and something we have been anticipating for a very long time. The majority of the project should be nearing completion as we begin the 2015 season. Moving into the new headquarters this summer will surely make for a summer to remember.
Another source of excitement is the anticipation of the 8 million people that will visit Ocean City. Sun worshipers, graduates, boogie boarders, surfers and just about anyone that wants to get away for some fun in the sun will be arriving.
Most beachgoers will have an enjoyable and relaxing time. But, if something goes wrong on the beach or in the ocean, who can help? You will be happy to know that Ocean City employees more than 200 Surf Rescue Technicians (SRT or lifeguards) that man stands over 10 miles of beach.
Our Surf Rescue Technicians are the fastest, bravest, best trained lifeguards in the world making thousands of rescues each summer. At the beach when there is an emergency, seconds count and you can count on your Surf Rescue Technician to be there when and where you need them.
For the best chance of survival, you need someone on the beach who is well trained and can see the dangers develop: someone who can prevent accidents before they happen and respond instantly if they occur.
Did you know that 95 percent of a good lifeguard’s work is preventative and the most important skill is scanning (looking for potential problems)?
Our guards are prepared and eager to fulfill our three-part mission: education, prevention and intervention. This mission guides our organization.
Ocean City Today has been a valuable asset for us in helping to achieve the educational part of our mission. Understanding the dangers that our ocean presents, allows a person to make decisions to keep themselves and their family safe while vacationing in Ocean City.
Each week I will continue to share some of the most important things to remember in order to make your stay safe and enjoyable. With that being said, let me remind you of one of our most important messages; “Keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguards in the stand!”
The ocean is unpredictable and statistics show that most of the drownings in the world occur during a time when lifeguards are not on duty.
You might also be interested to know the statistics of a typical season for the OCBP as we fulfill our mission:
•Returning lost and found individuals (1,000-2,000)
•Minor first aids (1,500-2,500)
•Medical emergencies with EMS (100 – 200)
•Head/neck/spinal responses (80- 100)
•Police assists (75-125)
•USCG / DNRP assists (10-25)
•Preventative actions in water (75,000-150,000)
•Surf Rescues (2,000-4,000)
Although we are dedicated to guarding and maintaining safety along Ocean City’s beaches seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., this is not our only role. We pride ourselves with another important role and that is to be ambassadors for the Town of Ocean City. As some of the most visible town employees, our unofficial role as an Ocean City ambassador is something we take pride in.
Members of the beach patrol are motivated, competent, professional assets to the Town of Ocean City. While each of us brings a great deal of positive attributes to the town, being a part of this great organization allows each of us to receive even more in return.
The town continues to do a great job of attracting visitors with major entertainment venues such as the OC Air Show and the newly expanded Performing Arts Center as a draw to get people to make Ocean City their vacation destination. The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department continues to provide free family entertainment six days a week to enable families to have a fun evening while not having to spend a lot of extra money. Springfest and Sunfest have become nationally ranked events.
Many people will be attracted to visit and vacation in Ocean City this summer. What people experience once they are here will likely determine if they return for another event or a vacation. This is why the beach patrol feels it is our job to make a difference in every visitor’s experience and to assure they “Discover an Ocean of Fun.”
We are first and foremost concerned about safety on the beach and in the ocean, and secondly we are continuously aware of how we as beach patrol members conduct ourselves when we interact with those we meet on the beach or anywhere in the town.
While we exist to provide a public safety service, when we take the extra steps to make someone feel welcomed, we become more than just employees of the beach patrol and the Town of Ocean City, we become a lasting part of their Ocean City experience.
We often say, our guards have hours of boredom and moments of trauma. Most of the time they are just watching (scanning) and waiting to be called into action. During this time (more than 90 percent of most days), the guards make conscious efforts to be ambassadors of the Town of Ocean City and let every person they meet know that, “We are glad that you are here.” You will often find a lifeguard talking to the public and educating them about beach conditions for the day, but it is not uncommon to find that same lifeguard sharing their favorite place to eat or relax.
Ocean City is a vacation destination and we are in competition for the continued loyalty of our visitors. We will continue to do our part as surf rescue technicians and as ambassadors for the Town of Ocean City. To get current information about the beach patrol, beach safety, as well as daily stats and current beach conditions, you can follow us on Twitter or “like us” on our Official OCBP Facebook page.
We’ll never know how many lives have already been saved by the lifeguards’ vigilance, but you can help and do your part by reading our safety advice each week (and telling others) and checking in with the lifeguard each time you visit to learn about current conditions.
We can’t wait to be a part of your wonderful experiences in Ocean City, and always remember to “Keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard’s in the stand!”