Posts

Special Event Safety

Tomorrow morning we’ll have our second lifeguard tryouts of the season. Candidates that are able to swim 500 meters in 9 minutes or less and pass a drug test and interview will have a shot at being beach lifeguards this summer. Our last tryout is May 10th. All the candidates who pass the initial screening will test their skills in a grueling double run-swim-run event in the surf. Completing this event will qualify them to enter our 100 hour lifeguard academy. Those that make it through this intense course will join the ranks of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol lifeguard staff.

Setting up for the run-swim-run event is quite a production. Two careful head counts take place before and after the event. The guards that work the event have a safety briefing before and a debriefing afterwards. At least one personal water craft (Jet Ski) with an operator and rescuer on board will be in the water overseeing the 8 or so seasoned lifeguards on rescue boards who work a zone formation. All candidates are checked at the finish line.

People in our line of work know how quickly bad things can happen and that eventually they will. It pays to be consistently prepared for any contingency and to put the extra effort in before the crisis. The best you can hope for is that you are over prepared and have safety systems in place that don’t need to be implemented.

This philosophy of risk mitigation is something that communities like ours with lots of tourism, special events, and sporting competitions each year need to embrace fully. With proper preparation and adequate resources we can minimize the number of bad things that happen.

Triathlons are notorious for providing a lot of resources and coverage on the land portions but almost nothing for water safety, where there is arguably greater risk. Minor issues on land that are easily detected and addressed can cause a quick death when they occur in the water.  Organizers will spend thousands of dollars making sure the bike and run legs have plenty of officers and paid staff members to direct traffic and keep the athletes and cars separated. Meanwhile, there may be some pool guards, a couple of boats and/or untrained volunteers in kayaks watching the swimmers, the majority of whom have little or no experience swimming in open water.

A couple of weeks ago the Beach Patrol coordinated a team including Police/Sheriff dive team, Jamaica Beach Fire Rescue, Ironman staff, and a volunteer kayak club. We collectively worked the swim portion of the Memorial Herman Ironman triathlon. Fortunately we were prepared and given adequate resources. The first part of the swim had a strong headwind that caused the swimmers lots of unexpected problems. It could have been catastrophic. But by the end of the event we’d made 36 rescues and 115 swim assists with no drownings or serious injuries.

Whether we’re talking about special events or managing tourism it helps to be imbedded in a community that understands the economic and social value of proper preparation.

 

Tryout Training: Day 10

Just 3 days away from our second tryout! Are you ready?! Test yourself with this swim workout. If you can do the 1000m under 18 minutes, our 500m test under 9 minutes should be a piece of cake. Be at the UTMB Field House (215 Holiday Dr., Galveston, TX) at 7am on April 19th to earn a spot in our rookie school!

Warm Up
200 swim choice
400 kick, pull, fins, swim
Main Set
1000 swim for time
6 x 25 sprint on 0:40
Warm Down
100 easy

Tryout Training: Day 9

Less than a week away from our second tryout! Time for the final push and test yourself to find out if you’re ready for our 500m swim under 9 minutes. April 19th, 7am at the UTMB Field House (215 Holiday Dr., Galveston, TX).

 

Warm Up
200 swim choice
400 kick, pull, fins, swim
Main Set
1200 swim for time
6 x 25 sprint on 0:40
Warm Down
100 easy

Tryout Training: Day 7 and Day 8

We’re posting 2 workouts today because we missed Wednesday. Knock one out today and another tomorrow or Sunday. 8 days away from our 2nd tryout! 4/19 at the UTMB Field House at 7am. 500m under 9 minutes!

Day 7

Warm Up
300 swim choice
300 Drill/swim IM order
Main Set
400 swim on 7:40
200 pull 3:20
2 x 100 swim with fins on 1:40
4 x 50 swim 0n 0:50
300 swim pace
Warm Down
6 x 50 choice kick
100 easy

Day 8

Warm Up
300 swim choice
300 drill swim IM order
Main Set
3 x 50 sprint on 1:00
150 recovery swim on3:20
3 x 100 sprint on 2:00
150 recovery swim on 3:20
3 x 150 sprint on 3:00
150 recovery swim on 3:20
3 x 25 sprint on 0:40
150 recovery swim on 3:20
Warm Down
200 easy

Tryout Training: Day 6

Day 6’s pool workout. Keep training! April 19th’s tryout is only 18 days away. Check back every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for more suggested pool workouts to prepare you for our 500m qualifying swim in under 9 minutes.

Warm Up
300 swim choice
300 kick IM order
Main Set
3 x 200 swim on 3:50
2 x 150 pull on 2:50
2 x 100 kick on 2:00
2 x 50 0n 0:50
4 x 25 sprint
Warm Down
4 x 50 choice kick
100 easy

Tryout Training: Day 5

We missed the update Wednesday! But Day 5 is the day to test your progress! Keep checking for more suggested pool workouts in preparation for our 500m Tryouts, April 19th, 7am at UTMB Field House.

Warm Up
300 swim choice
300 kick IM order
Main Set
1000 timed swim
Warm Down
6 x 50 alternating choice kick and pull
100 easy

Tryouts

The group of young men and women radiated nervousness as they lined up on the sand. “On your mark, get set, GO!” shouted the instructor as they raced down the beach around the tower and into the water.

I was about half way out to the buoy when a group of good swimmers caught me and basically swam right over me. By the time I got going again a wave smacked me right in the face as I was taking a breath. When I got to the buoy I had to hang on for a few seconds to catch my breath before pushing on.

The year was 1983 and I finished 11th out of 30 in the Beach Patrol tryouts. They took the top 8. Finally, around the 4th of July I got a call that I could come and work. There was no formal training and no special first aid course other than what I got when I took the Red Cross pool lifesaving course. I was just given a radio and sent to work.

Tomorrow is the first of three tryouts for the Beach Patrol at 7am at the UTMB pool. If you know anyone that wants to work on the Beach Patrol spread the word. The basic swim test is the same as it was 32 years ago when I bombed it. Details are on our website. Candidates who want to start working right away can go through the first lifeguard academy over spring break. We pay them to attend the school where they are certified in CPR, First Aid, and beach lifeguarding. They also go through training in tourist relations, city codes pertaining to Galveston’s beaches, gulf coast ecology, and near shore topography and hydrology. Coupled with all the classroom work is hands on training in how to swim and make rescues in surf, search and recovery, and the basics of lifesaving sport. It’s a busy week and we’ll do it all over again the second week in May for the second lifeguard academy.

In addition to training for new lifeguards we are starting our annual training session for dispatchers, supervisors, and personal water craft rescue operations. By the time Memorial Weekend hits we’ll be up to speed. Despite the huge amount of effort all this requires of our permanent staff members there’s a big payoff for both our staff and the public. The inconsistent training that once took a whole summer is taught in a uniform manner. Each employee is taught the same material and instilled with similar core values. Any one of our guards can handle whatever is thrown at them when and if they complete the training.

So for those that would like to try being a beach guard, I hope you’ll give it a shot. I’m so happy I squeaked in all those years ago. For me it was a life changer. Not many people get to go home at the end of the day with the knowledge that they saved someone.