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Ocean City Beach Patrol returns to stands, Saturday

The lifeguards will be back in their stands this Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. They will be on patrol every day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. until Sept. 27, Captain Butch Arbin said.

Arbin has served the patrol for 40 years, becoming captain in 1997.

Eventually, as in the next few weeks, the patrol will swell to more than 200 members, Arbin said.

A significant portion of those are new recruits. This past Monday, a class of 33 hopefuls began training on the beach just east of the inlet parking lot. Arbin said 51 rookies have already been recruited, with 116 potential members undergoing testing in early June.

“If I wouldn’t trust them with my family I’m not going to trust them with yours,” Arbin said.

The training will last all week, and those lucky enough to be selected to continue will endure another three weeks of supervised evaluation.

Veteran members of the patrol, Arbin said, were scheduled to return this past Wednesday, May 20.

“Everyone is so excited to come back. I’d say 80 percent of the members will be back on Wednesday,” the first day returning members can pick up their equipment and undergo drug testing, Arbin said.

“We have a lot of people who have been with us for a long time. Some go from full-time to part-time when they get married or have children,” he continued. “On Saturday at 7 a.m., we’ll start with a prayer service, like we always do; at 8 a.m. I’ll meet with the crew chiefs and management and by 10 a.m. we’ll be up and running like we never left.”

Annual visitors to the resort might always expect to see the beach patrol during their stay, but Arbin said he often surprises people when he mentions they’re not out on the sands year-round.

“Keep your toes in the sand until the guard is on duty,” Arbin advises, “and always swim near a guard.”

This year is a bit different than last for members of the OCBP, since they are on the cusp of moving into new headquarters on the corner of Talbot Street and Philadelphia Ave. The major headache of which would normally be moving equipment, but Arbin said the patrol was able to skirt this issue with some creative scheduling.

At the end of each season, he explained, the equipment is put into storage. Once the gear goes out, patrol members are responsible for it during the summer. When they return it at the end of September, it will again be placed into storage, but this time at the new headquarters, negating the need of time and manpower to move it all.

“Everyone sees the guards on the beach, but they don’t think about all the other things that go into the patrol,” Arbin said.

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