Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

This morning I awoke actually remembering my dreams. This is not normally the case because I am known to deny that I dream at all, against all scientific data. A memory of one of my oddest, ocean, rescues had surfaced along with another recollection later in my career. A sweltering, still, morning with the ocean as slick as glass and the beach populated by the “regulars”, the early rising, elderly that flocked to our beaches as early as possible to escape the heat before midday. At 10th street, our Headquarters, was strung a “rope line” of one inch, yellow, nylon rope. The rope was anchored into the shore and also out roughly thirty to forty yards offshore. This rope afforded some stability to those that were not exactly stable on their feet any longer. Our lifeguard towers were glorified telephone booths built of plywood and 4X4 posts. Each had a set of plastic, curtains with vinyl windows for protection from the elements. In the early morning we would simply double over the front curtain and peak out from under it at our bathing crowd. Not a perfect answer to the heat but it would keep the sun's rays at bay until it traveled higher in the clear, eastern sky. I was scanning the crowd one morning on “early shift” before we started working a ten hour day. This meant that I was the only tower open on all of South Beach so I was watching far and wide that morning. As luck would have it, my gaze crossed the rope line as I spot an older gentleman topple over. I hesitated as I fully expected to see him right himself because the water was only two feet deep. No such luck! There he is, under water with people all around and nobody has noticed a thing. I slip from my tower, race down the beach and splash into the luke warm, Miami Beach water to see this man holding onto the rope, holding his breath, with eyes as big as saucers. Immediately I pick him up as he sputters and coughs, just now alerting those around him that there was a problem. We stand there a while and then I help him to the beach. As we approach his towel and shoes he shyly says “lifecatcher, please don't tell my wife, she told me not to swim today!”. I patted him on the back and assured him that his secret was safe with me........  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

Now that I’m on this memory kick, one of my “quickest” rescues comes to mind.  I worked alone at 64th Street Beach for a number of years and really enjoyed the station.  Like most of the outlying beach parks it was sandwiched in between concrete, condo towers or aging Miami Beach Hotels.  The latter was the case for this location.  For me, it afforded some privacy & the opportunity to surf on a good swell!  I had a key to the back room and would sneak my red, 6’10” Bayne swallow tail into the room before work.  Two young brothers would shred the waves next door to my tower. Their names were Fico & Jesse Fernandez and their dad ran the pool deck. The rescue in mind happened along the north jetty between the hotel and my beach park.  This whole area was segregated by corrugated, metal jetties that had been installed in a failed attempt to stop the constant sand erosion from behind the hotels.  These jetties would create an outgoing current whenever the wind and waves increased.  To magnify the danger the outgoing current would also dig a deep channel as the sand was pulled away from the jetty. It was SOP to keep swimmers away from the jetties and we could spend a whole day blowing our whistles and constantly moving the crowd away from the hazard.  NOT THIS DAY!!  It was quiet, I had just assisted a family in “safely” placing their umbrella so that it wouldn’t blow away.  As I turn, I spot two black gentlemen, already in the water, right next to the jetty.  I BLOW MY WHISTLE!!  One guy hears me, sees me waving him to shore but his buddy has no clue! I was close to the south jetty and the rescue was on the north one so I’m sprinting to the tower to get my bright, orange, rescue buoy as I’m watching this guy getting sucked out as if he’s on an escalator.  By the time I’m about to hit the water I can see that he is already “face down”.  Even the elderly folks that I have rescued have fought longer than this twenty-eight year old. I am hauling butt, with a heavy heart and adrenalin coursing through my body.  Most of my rescues have been “active” and the gravity of this situation has me burning inside as I watch the victim’s inert body reach the end of the jetty and disappear. In what seemed like an eternity but what was probably 30 more seconds, I round the jetty to see the victim still on the surface but STILL face down.  I grab his outstretched arm and spin him face up.... nothing.  As luck would have it, nature gives and takes away, so the sand pulled from the other side of the jetty was deposited on this side.... I can stand!  Just before I slap my lips on this guy to see if I can resuscitate him, I shake him.  “Wake up you SOB” I yell. Sputter, sputter, cough cough, “Where am I?”  I still had quite a job ahead of me as there was no ladder to the pool deck.  Once I knew that he was alert enough, I towed him back around the jetty to join his buddy for the rest of their vacation. To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

“The Perfect Rescue” Not exactly perfect but well planned.... Spring Break and everyone is looking forward to a party!  Well, maybe not everyone as we lifeguards must deal with a dangerous mix during that season.  The weather warms up, the kids get out of school, the collages spill their winter weary undergrads out to freedom & coincidentally, the typical weather patterns create large, choppy, surf. The strong winds and rough seas create areas of outgoing currents called “sets”, “runouts”, “riptides”, etc.  These will form intermittently along our seven miles of Miami Beach with regularity.  In a guarded area the personnel will erect warning flags to mark these runouts and use our whistles to direct swimmers away from the danger.  Most of the time, as long as the swimmers listen, this will keep everyone safe and we make no water rescues. To complicate matters, as mentioned previously, Miami Beach’s guard towers were not contiguous but had “unguarded” areas between various locations.  This story chronicles just such an area during spring break.  The wind had been blowing strong from the east for a few days and I had been watching a runout form north of my tower at 74th street beach.  The next guarded tower was located at 79th street so there was roughly five blocks of “unguarded” beach between the two locations and the runout was located at 77th street.  As if designed to funnel swimmers into this dangerous area, street end parking was available at that location.  School had just let out the day before so we were expecting large crowds but it was still early in the morning. Lifeguarding has few tools but what we had we utilized to our best advantage.  The trusty, whistle, binoculars, our warning flags, two, bright orange, rescue buoys, first aid gear and our resuscitator.  Communications at that time consisted of our “rescue flag” sitting atop our towers and a phone.  If time permitted you would call an adjacent tower and tell them where you were about to make a rescue.  If time didn’t permit you would release your “rescue flag” so that the other guards might notice it as they scan the area and give you backup. On this day I noticed five teenagers enter the beach at 77th street heading straight for the location of the runout.  If memory serves Eddie DeStefano was working 79 so I gave him a call.  He knew what was going to happen as well so we agreed to meet with all of our buoys (4) and that I would bring the resuscitator. Here I am, all 150 pounds of me, pumping my skinny legs through the soft sand carrying two buoys and a heavy resuscitator 2 1/2 blocks north as Eddie approaches from the other direction.  As we anticipated, the kids hit the water and were being sucked out at great speed.  They were unaware of the situation until we got close so the panic factor was not a problem.  The girls were beginning to register some fear as we distributed the buoys for them to hang onto. It took us quite some time to swim parallel to shore (to get out of the current) and then back to the dry beach.  Being young adult victims was one factor in the success of this rescue because they could assist us in the tow back to shore but the greatest factor was our anticipation. As we were taught, “a good lifeguard doesn’t have to get wet!” which simply meant that if you managed your water you could prevent most rescues.  On Miami Beach two factors complicated this.  One was the average age and health of many of our elderly beach patrons but the other was the inability to “manage” the unguarded areas.  Some patrons would ask, “what do you do if you see a person in trouble in an unguarded area?” the answer was ALWAYS “call for backup and GO!!” To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  
BP Stories
© John W Lasseter
BP Stories

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

This morning I awoke actually remembering my dreams. This is not normally the case because I am known to deny that I dream at all, against all scientific data. A memory of one of my oddest, ocean, rescues had surfaced along with another recollection later in my career. A sweltering, still, morning with the ocean as slick as glass and the beach populated by the “regulars”, the early rising, elderly that flocked to our beaches as early as possible to escape the heat before midday. At 10th street, our Headquarters, was strung a “rope line” of one inch, yellow, nylon rope. The rope was anchored into the shore and also out roughly thirty to forty yards offshore. This rope afforded some stability to those that were not exactly stable on their feet any longer. Our lifeguard towers were glorified telephone booths built of plywood and 4X4 posts. Each had a set of plastic, curtains with vinyl windows for protection from the elements. In the early morning we would simply double over the front curtain and peak out from under it at our bathing crowd. Not a perfect answer to the heat but it would keep the sun's rays at bay until it traveled higher in the clear, eastern sky. I was scanning the crowd one morning on “early shift” before we started working a ten hour day. This meant that I was the only tower open on all of South Beach so I was watching far and wide that morning. As luck would have it, my gaze crossed the rope line as I spot an older gentleman topple over. I hesitated as I fully expected to see him right himself because the water was only two feet deep. No such luck! There he is, under water with people all around and nobody has noticed a thing. I slip from my tower, race down the beach and splash into the luke warm, Miami Beach water to see this man holding onto the rope, holding his breath, with eyes as big as saucers. Immediately I pick him up as he sputters and coughs, just now alerting those around him that there was a problem. We stand there a while and then I help him to the beach. As we approach his towel and shoes he shyly says “lifecatcher, please don't tell my wife, she told me not to swim today!”. I patted him on the back and assured him that his secret was safe with me........  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

Now that I’m on this memory kick, one of my “quickest” rescues comes to mind.  I worked alone at 64th Street Beach for a number of years and really enjoyed the station.  Like most of the outlying beach parks it was sandwiched in between concrete, condo towers or aging Miami Beach Hotels.  The latter was the case for this location.  For me, it afforded some privacy & the opportunity to surf on a good swell!  I had a key to the back room and would sneak my red, 6’10” Bayne swallow tail into the room before work.  Two young brothers would shred the waves next door to my tower. Their names were Fico & Jesse Fernandez and their dad ran the pool deck. The rescue in mind happened along the north jetty between the hotel and my beach park.  This whole area was segregated by corrugated, metal jetties that had been installed in a failed attempt to stop the constant sand erosion from behind the hotels.  These jetties would create an outgoing current whenever the wind and waves increased.  To magnify the danger the outgoing current would also dig a deep channel as the sand was pulled away from the jetty. It was SOP to keep swimmers away from the jetties and we could spend a whole day blowing our whistles and constantly moving the crowd away from the hazard.  NOT THIS DAY!!  It was quiet, I had just assisted a family in “safely” placing their umbrella so that it wouldn’t blow away.  As I turn, I spot two black gentlemen, already in the water, right next to the jetty.  I BLOW MY WHISTLE!!  One guy hears me, sees me waving him to shore but his buddy has no clue! I was close to the south jetty and the rescue was on the north one so I’m sprinting to the tower to get my bright, orange, rescue buoy as I’m watching this guy getting sucked out as if he’s on an escalator.  By the time I’m about to hit the water I can see that he is already “face down”.  Even the elderly folks that I have rescued have fought longer than this twenty-eight year old. I am hauling butt, with a heavy heart and adrenalin coursing through my body.  Most of my rescues have been “active” and the gravity of this situation has me burning inside as I watch the victim’s inert body reach the end of the jetty and disappear. In what seemed like an eternity but what was probably 30 more seconds, I round the jetty to see the victim still on the surface but STILL face down.  I grab his outstretched arm and spin him face up.... nothing.  As luck would have it, nature gives and takes away, so the sand pulled from the other side of the jetty was deposited on this side.... I can stand!  Just before I slap my lips on this guy to see if I can resuscitate him, I shake him.  “Wake up you SOB” I yell. Sputter, sputter, cough cough, “Where am I?”  I still had quite a job ahead of me as there was no ladder to the pool deck.  Once I knew that he was alert enough, I towed him back around the jetty to join his buddy for the rest of their vacation. To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

“The Perfect Rescue” Not exactly perfect but well planned.... Spring Break and everyone is looking forward to a party!  Well, maybe not everyone as we lifeguards must deal with a dangerous mix during that season.  The weather warms up, the kids get out of school, the collages spill their winter weary undergrads out to freedom & coincidentally, the typical weather patterns create large, choppy, surf. The strong winds and rough seas create areas of outgoing currents called “sets”, “runouts”, “riptides”, etc.  These will form intermittently along our seven miles of Miami Beach with regularity.  In a guarded area the personnel will erect warning flags to mark these runouts and use our whistles to direct swimmers away from the danger.  Most of the time, as long as the swimmers listen, this will keep everyone safe and we make no water rescues. To complicate matters, as mentioned previously, Miami Beach’s guard towers were not contiguous but had “unguarded” areas between various locations.  This story chronicles just such an area during spring break.  The wind had been blowing strong from the east for a few days and I had been watching a runout form north of my tower at 74th street beach.  The next guarded tower was located at 79th street so there was roughly five blocks of “unguarded” beach between the two locations and the runout was located at 77th street.  As if designed to funnel swimmers into this dangerous area, street end parking was available at that location.  School had just let out the day before so we were expecting large crowds but it was still early in the morning. Lifeguarding has few tools but what we had we utilized to our best advantage.  The trusty, whistle, binoculars, our warning flags, two, bright orange, rescue buoys, first aid gear and our resuscitator.  Communications at that time consisted of our “rescue flag” sitting atop our towers and a phone.  If time permitted you would call an adjacent tower and tell them where you were about to make a rescue.  If time didn’t permit you would release your “rescue flag” so that the other guards might notice it as they scan the area and give you backup. On this day I noticed five teenagers enter the beach at 77th street heading straight for the location of the runout.  If memory serves Eddie DeStefano was working 79 so I gave him a call.  He knew what was going to happen as well so we agreed to meet with all of our buoys (4) and that I would bring the resuscitator. Here I am, all 150 pounds of me, pumping my skinny legs through the soft sand carrying two buoys and a heavy resuscitator 2 1/2 blocks north as Eddie approaches from the other direction.  As we anticipated, the kids hit the water and were being sucked out at great speed.  They were unaware of the situation until we got close so the panic factor was not a problem.  The girls were beginning to register some fear as we distributed the buoys for them to hang onto. It took us quite some time to swim parallel to shore (to get out of the current) and then back to the dry beach.  Being young adult victims was one factor in the success of this rescue because they could assist us in the tow back to shore but the greatest factor was our anticipation. As we were taught, “a good lifeguard doesn’t have to get wet!” which simply meant that if you managed your water you could prevent most rescues.  On Miami Beach two factors complicated this.  One was the average age and health of many of our elderly beach patrons but the other was the inability to “manage” the unguarded areas.  Some patrons would ask, “what do you do if you see a person in trouble in an unguarded area?” the answer was ALWAYS “call for backup and GO!!” To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  
© John W Lasseter

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

This morning I awoke actually remembering my dreams. This is not normally the case because I am known to deny that I dream at all, against all scientific data. A memory of one of my oddest, ocean, rescues had surfaced along with another recollection later in my career. A sweltering, still, morning with the ocean as slick as glass and the beach populated by the “regulars”, the early rising, elderly that flocked to our beaches as early as possible to escape the heat before midday. At 10th street, our Headquarters, was strung a “rope line” of one inch, yellow, nylon rope. The rope was anchored into the shore and also out roughly thirty to forty yards offshore. This rope afforded some stability to those that were not exactly stable on their feet any longer. Our lifeguard towers were glorified telephone booths built of plywood and 4X4 posts. Each had a set of plastic, curtains with vinyl windows for protection from the elements. In the early morning we would simply double over the front curtain and peak out from under it at our bathing crowd. Not a perfect answer to the heat but it would keep the sun's rays at bay until it traveled higher in the clear, eastern sky. I was scanning the crowd one morning on “early shift” before we started working a ten hour day. This meant that I was the only tower open on all of South Beach so I was watching far and wide that morning. As luck would have it, my gaze crossed the rope line as I spot an older gentleman topple over. I hesitated as I fully expected to see him right himself because the water was only two feet deep. No such luck! There he is, under water with people all around and nobody has noticed a thing. I slip from my tower, race down the beach and splash into the luke warm, Miami Beach water to see this man holding onto the rope, holding his breath, with eyes as big as saucers. Immediately I pick him up as he sputters and coughs, just now alerting those around him that there was a problem. We stand there a while and then I help him to the beach. As we approach his towel and shoes he shyly says “lifecatcher, please don't tell my wife, she told me not to swim today!”. I patted him on the back and assured him that his secret was safe with me........  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

Now that I’m on this memory kick, one of my “quickest” rescues comes to mind.  I worked alone at 64th Street Beach for a number of years and really enjoyed the station.  Like most of the outlying beach parks it was sandwiched in between concrete, condo towers or aging Miami Beach Hotels.  The latter was the case for this location.  For me, it afforded some privacy & the opportunity to surf on a good swell!  I had a key to the back room and would sneak my red, 6’10” Bayne swallow tail into the room before work.  Two young brothers would shred the waves next door to my tower. Their names were Fico & Jesse Fernandez and their dad ran the pool deck. The rescue in mind happened along the north jetty between the hotel and my beach park.  This whole area was segregated by corrugated, metal jetties that had been installed in a failed attempt to stop the constant sand erosion from behind the hotels.  These jetties would create an outgoing current whenever the wind and waves increased.  To magnify the danger the outgoing current would also dig a deep channel as the sand was pulled away from the jetty. It was SOP to keep swimmers away from the jetties and we could spend a whole day blowing our whistles and constantly moving the crowd away from the hazard.  NOT THIS DAY!!  It was quiet, I had just assisted a family in “safely” placing their umbrella so that it wouldn’t blow away.  As I turn, I spot two black gentlemen, already in the water, right next to the jetty.  I BLOW MY WHISTLE!!  One guy hears me, sees me waving him to shore but his buddy has no clue! I was close to the south jetty and the rescue was on the north one so I’m sprinting to the tower to get my bright, orange, rescue buoy as I’m watching this guy getting sucked out as if he’s on an escalator.  By the time I’m about to hit the water I can see that he is already “face down”.  Even the elderly folks that I have rescued have fought longer than this twenty-eight year old. I am hauling butt, with a heavy heart and adrenalin coursing through my body.  Most of my rescues have been “active” and the gravity of this situation has me burning inside as I watch the victim’s inert body reach the end of the jetty and disappear. In what seemed like an eternity but what was probably 30 more seconds, I round the jetty to see the victim still on the surface but STILL face down.  I grab his outstretched arm and spin him face up.... nothing.  As luck would have it, nature gives and takes away, so the sand pulled from the other side of the jetty was deposited on this side.... I can stand!  Just before I slap my lips on this guy to see if I can resuscitate him, I shake him.  “Wake up you SOB” I yell. Sputter, sputter, cough cough, “Where am I?”  I still had quite a job ahead of me as there was no ladder to the pool deck.  Once I knew that he was alert enough, I towed him back around the jetty to join his buddy for the rest of their vacation. To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  

Beach Patrol Days, disjointed memories....

“The Perfect Rescue” Not exactly perfect but well planned.... Spring Break and everyone is looking forward to a party!  Well, maybe not everyone as we lifeguards must deal with a dangerous mix during that season.  The weather warms up, the kids get out of school, the collages spill their winter weary undergrads out to freedom & coincidentally, the typical weather patterns create large, choppy, surf. The strong winds and rough seas create areas of outgoing currents called “sets”, “runouts”, “riptides”, etc.  These will form intermittently along our seven miles of Miami Beach with regularity.  In a guarded area the personnel will erect warning flags to mark these runouts and use our whistles to direct swimmers away from the danger.  Most of the time, as long as the swimmers listen, this will keep everyone safe and we make no water rescues. To complicate matters, as mentioned previously, Miami Beach’s guard towers were not contiguous but had “unguarded” areas between various locations.  This story chronicles just such an area during spring break.  The wind had been blowing strong from the east for a few days and I had been watching a runout form north of my tower at 74th street beach.  The next guarded tower was located at 79th street so there was roughly five blocks of “unguarded” beach between the two locations and the runout was located at 77th street.  As if designed to funnel swimmers into this dangerous area, street end parking was available at that location.  School had just let out the day before so we were expecting large crowds but it was still early in the morning. Lifeguarding has few tools but what we had we utilized to our best advantage.  The trusty, whistle, binoculars, our warning flags, two, bright orange, rescue buoys, first aid gear and our resuscitator.  Communications at that time consisted of our “rescue flag” sitting atop our towers and a phone.  If time permitted you would call an adjacent tower and tell them where you were about to make a rescue.  If time didn’t permit you would release your “rescue flag” so that the other guards might notice it as they scan the area and give you backup. On this day I noticed five teenagers enter the beach at 77th street heading straight for the location of the runout.  If memory serves Eddie DeStefano was working 79 so I gave him a call.  He knew what was going to happen as well so we agreed to meet with all of our buoys (4) and that I would bring the resuscitator. Here I am, all 150 pounds of me, pumping my skinny legs through the soft sand carrying two buoys and a heavy resuscitator 2 1/2 blocks north as Eddie approaches from the other direction.  As we anticipated, the kids hit the water and were being sucked out at great speed.  They were unaware of the situation until we got close so the panic factor was not a problem.  The girls were beginning to register some fear as we distributed the buoys for them to hang onto. It took us quite some time to swim parallel to shore (to get out of the current) and then back to the dry beach.  Being young adult victims was one factor in the success of this rescue because they could assist us in the tow back to shore but the greatest factor was our anticipation. As we were taught, “a good lifeguard doesn’t have to get wet!” which simply meant that if you managed your water you could prevent most rescues.  On Miami Beach two factors complicated this.  One was the average age and health of many of our elderly beach patrons but the other was the inability to “manage” the unguarded areas.  Some patrons would ask, “what do you do if you see a person in trouble in an unguarded area?” the answer was ALWAYS “call for backup and GO!!” To quote one of my favorite partners & supervisors, Mike Reid, “Another day in Paradise!!”  
BP Stories
© John W Lasseter