Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad Day at Work

No pics. Sorry.

Training remains lackluster with all the hours I'm putting in at work. While I realize many people work 40 hours a week and still get in more training than I do, the physical demands of my job take a lot out of me. Saturday was one such day.

When I arrived to work I saw that the surf picked up considerably compared to the day before and hen I climbed onto the tower deck, I immediately noticed rip currents popping up in different locations than usual. With no established "bad spots" to keep people out of, I'd have to be on my toes all day and react quickly to whatever developed. Crap.

When rip currents develop quickly in random locations, we call them "flash rips".

It was a very trying day and I feel fortunate that no one was seriously injured on my beach. One woman had to be taken away in an ambulance after being thrown head first into the sand. Luckily, that happened in front of the Tower next to me. Cover your head with your arms if you get tossed...

I rescued 9 people that day.

Doesn't sound like much over the course of 8 hours, but sprinting down the beach, charging out into the surf and then towing people back in is tough work. Now think about the size of the "average American" and you get the idea. Several rescues were actually multpile victim; without the help of lifeguards Brammer and Puckett, life would have been considerably more challenging.

On two such "multiple victim" rescues, we wound up with 3 lifeguards in the water all rescuing several people at once; the unit (the Jeep the drives up and down the beach) actually stopped and jumped into the water to help me with a 5-person rescue.

Worst one? 10-15 people all in a HUGE rip current. I saw it develop and cursed under my breath (...oh shit...) as I reached for the phone, notifying dispatch where I was going and what I was doing. While running down the beach to the location, the rip increased in size and strength; I accelerated into a sprint, adrenaline rushing into my system. As I reach the location I meet Brammer who'd come over from the unit parked at Tower 1 to help me out. We ran into the water, yelling at people "Get out of the water!" and noticing the 4 people in need of rescue 25 yards out. We sprint out. Matt picks up the 2 people on boogie boards and yells at me to "Get that kid!" farther out. I reach him and he's breathing hard from swimming against the current...me too. I catch my breath and begin towing him in; at which point I notice the guard from tower 1 (Puckett) had also helped out.

Holly came down to the beach to relax for the day and commented it looked like something you'd see on T.V. Surreal to be sure.

Later, I'd rescue a little girl and her grandpa out of the same location; she was too small to get out of the current and he was too weak. He was so tired, in fact, he was unable to get on top of the boogie board she had been using. Towing both of them in took a lot of effort. My arms ached and my lungs burned by the time I pulled them in to shore.

Towards the end of the day, I had a 3-person rescure in a different location. Since two victims were on boogie boards (are we noticing a trend here?) I simply grabbed the front of the boards and kicked with my feet, pulling all 3 in.

Needless to say, I got no training done that day.

Bottom line:
1) Stay the f*ck out of the water on big surf days unless you know what you're doing.
2) DO NOT go out on a Boogie Board without fins. PERIOD
3) Ask the Lifeguard where it's safe to swim or STAY OUT of areas they keep running to and rescuing people out of.
4) Can't swim? Stay out of the freaking ocean!

Eric

4 comments:

Big Rig said...

Makes me want to come watch you work.

Luke said...

good job bro!

Girl on a Bike said...

You're a triathlete, right? Sounds like you got a LOT of swimming in ;)

Glad everyone was okay.

PacMan said...

Yep, I'd have to agree--sounds like you had a full day of training in.