WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE ISLAND

One Beach One Lifeguard

The small 5-year-old, brown skinned, dark haired girl played in the sand with her little sister on the beach. Their fully clothed mother and grandmother laid out a tablecloth and set the china place settings out with well practiced movements. It was a summer day in 1943 at the beach by Murdoch’s Bathhouse. Barbara, the […]

Bikes and Training

Whether you’re hunkering down with the groceries you bought before the crowds descended or out in the mix reveling in one of the largest events of this type anywhere, its hard not to notice its Biker Rally Weekend. I personally am a fan despite the inconvenience when moving around. I grew up riding as a […]

Cooling Down

Traditionally, we always look at Halloween as the point where the water is too cold to see much activity. That has gone out the window with so much else, but it is a marker that things are starting to cool down. When the seasons change, it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach […]

Cooling Down

Traditionally, we always look at Halloween as the point where the water is too cold to see much activity. That has gone out the window with so much else, but it is a marker that things are starting to cool down. When the seasons change, it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach […]

Surf Roots

At 10 my friend David Schutz and I bought surfboards. I think our moms were sick of us riding homemade skim boards in the ditch and both of us coming in for dinner covered in oozy abrasions. Mine was a smashed up 5’11” yellowed Dale Dobson and his was a 6’1” green Petrillo. Beautiful. It […]

Perfect Storm & Non Fatal Drowning

Sergeant Andy Moffett and Supervisor Michael Lucero were powering up and down the seawall last Sunday moving swimmer after swimmer away from the rocks. The wind was howling, water was rough, there were strong lateral currents pulling people to the rocks, and the rip currents were really strong. On top of all that the beach […]

October is the best month of the year in Galveston for the beach. If the weather was porridge in a Goldilocks story, we’d be the third bowl. Water is still nice and warm, but the air has cooled off just a bit, so you almost hate walking into a building and not spending every available […]

Preventative Actions

For us, the big measure of how much work we do is “preventative actions”. This captures a range of activities anywhere from jumping off the rocks and swimming next to someone in a rip current around the head of the groin to a blanket announcement on a loudspeaker telling people to clear the water because […]

Whale

The small whale thrashed on the shoreline as a representatives of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network tried to get in close to help it out by getting a line to administer medication with. By “small” I mean maybe 10-11 foot, so it was really dangerous for them to get close enough to help. This particular […]

Storm Response

Coming off the Labor Day weekend we all jumped straight into a hurricane. If we needed a reminder that Mother Nature is completely random and impartial with respect to our needs and wants, we’ve just gotten yet another one. I’m impressed with how quickly we bounce back. Things were opening the very next day and […]

Labord Day and kids with a bucket

“Mr. Lifeguard, Mr. Lifeguard look what we caught!” I turned around to see three cute kids running at me with a pail of water that was sloshing over the side. Dad followed them shrugging and smiling sheepishly as if to say, “Its out of my hands”. Looking into the bucket I saw a mass of […]

Labor Day Prep

We had a very near miss with Hurricane Ida. Remember, as tired as we all are of all kinds of stressors, we’re still only in the middle of storm season. Maintain vigilance and stay tuned to advice from our local experts. Especially be sure you have your plan together and everything is in order for […]

Heat

The knock on the door in the late afternoon wasn’t a surprise. Nor was the woman in her 70’s who was dizzy, a little disoriented, and sweating. Our Headquarters doubles as a first aid station for beach patrons, so its not unusual for people to show up with all kinds of medical emergencies including heat […]

Drowning at 61st

Last Tuesday morning a man got to the beach at 61st early, walked around a bit, left his things just east of the pier, and went into the water. The time that elapsed at that point is unclear, but when the lifeguard arrived on location, all he saw was calm, clear, water with a tiny […]

Lightning Policy

WHACK! I didn’t remember seeing a flash or hearing thunder, but my ears were ringing. I looked around and it felt like I’d just woken up. My heart was beating pretty quickly, and my hands were shaking, but I didn’t know why. Suddenly, I noticed a volleyball court pole about 15 yards away was split […]

Tommy Leigh

      I noticed, as if from a distance, that my hands trembled slightly as I fitted the airway device into the man’s mouth. Once it was in, I repositioned the head, tilting it slightly back, and tried again to get oxygen into the lungs. This time the chest rose. As my partner did […]

Disco Dog Party

Some of you may remember the gas rig that was the closest platform off the beach back in the 80’s and 90’s. Before they took it down, in a wilder era, Beach Patrol made good use of both that and the old light house on the end of the south jetty. I had a Hawaiian […]

SHARKS

Nat Geo ran a documentary story this week about sharks and played an interview I did with them a while back. Whenever Shark Week rolls around people start seeing things in our water  and reporting them. They’re almost always a dolphin’s pectoral fin since you really wouldn’t spot a shark from the shoreline very often, […]

Charlotte Blacketer Rescue

A man entered the water with his son and two daughters around 13th street in the afternoon over the 4th of July weekend. It was a beautiful day with small, clean waves and green water. The beach was crowded. The kids ranged from a very young daughter to a teenager. The little girl was in […]

Pre 4th of July

Hard to believe we’re to the 4th of July. Weather permitting, this could be a massive event, seeing as each weekend since the beach season started seems like a holiday weekend in both the best and worst of ways. Galveston needed our tourists back, and the hotel occupancy rates are just one of several indicators […]

LIFEGUARD TRYOUTS

LIFEGUARD TRYOUTS: July 6th at 7:00 AM UTMB Pool House 301 Holiday Dr. Galveston, TX 77550 Check back here or call us for updates the day before tryouts.  Swim location may be subject to changes. DO NOT BE LATE FOR THE SWIM!  IT WILL START RIGHT AT 7AM!

Critters, etc.

Summer beach conditions are definitely here. Summer water means more critters. Fish, stingrays, and all other types of animals move closer to the shoreline. Most times we manage to avoid mishap when visiting the beach.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t ever hurt to take a few precautions and take responsibility for your own safety. Shuffle your feet […]

The Madness

It’s hard to keep up. Summer hit hard. Crowds come early for the weekend and stay late. Friday and Monday look like weekend days and on Saturday and Sunday all 33 miles of beach are blanketed with people. Police, Fire, EMS, and Beach Patrol have all been scrambling to stay on top of all the […]

Busy Summer Time

Wow! Hard to believe how fast summer is moving. As I write this, I’m just back in from responding to an impressive 3 person rescue by Captain Pryor and Lifeguard Martinez at 39th street. Looks like one of two kids may have stepped off a sandbar into deeper water and his dad and sister tried […]

Memorial Weekend Wrap Up

The little girl sat in the sand with her plastic bucket and shovel. She was completely absorbed in her mission of shoveling sand into the bucket, pouring it back onto the ground, then repeating the process. Stewart Beach was packed. From a distance it looked like living, multicolored moss covered it completely. The girl had […]

Memorial Weekend Safety

All the preparation is done. The equipment is ready, the planning is over, and the time for preparation transitions to the time for action. We are a little light on new guards, but enough dedicated experienced guards are coming back and working the holiday. All 32 of our towers will be covered, all vehicles will […]

Rock Training

Gray overcast sky with dark clouds scudding overhead. The howling wind whipped the beach water into a frothy, choppy maelstrom punctuated with white caps. Waves broke over the barnacle and algae covered rocks. A group picked their way gingerly across the higher rocks, which were only covered in white, foamy water intermittently. One person, older […]

Mothers Day Wrap Up

Two boys drifted towards the rocks in the longshore current. Once they got to the point of the longshore current, which pushed from West to East, met the rip current, which pulled out towards the end of the groin, there was no going back. They couldn’t swim to shore or against the longshore current. They […]

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol Annual BBQ Fundraiser

Unfortunately, we have to postpone our Annual BBQ Fundraiser until June 2022. Thank you for your continued support and we will see you next year!

Rookies Needed!

One week from tomorrow, on May 15th at 7am we will be holding lifeguard tryouts at the UTMB Fieldhouse. Info is on our website. After the swim, drug test, and orientation, we will launch straight into almost 100 hours of training in 9 days. We are all holding our breath hoping that recruiting efforts pay […]

Rescue

A 5-year-old boy got caught in a rip current on the East side of 29th Street last Saturday and was pulled out to the end of the groin. There was no lifeguard on duty to stop him before he got into trouble and move him farther from the rocks and closer to shore. He began […]

Wave Watchers Graduation

This weekend should be an interesting one. We’ve got with some real high tides and very strong onshore winds predicted for tonight. Then tomorrow a nice day is scheduled for both the normal large beach crowds we’ve been seeing plus the Slow, Low, and Bangin’ (S.L.A.B.) event that is supposed to happen. Those who work […]

Assumptions

The last weekend was a big one. Water and air in the 70’s and nice weather meant tons of people in the water. The entire island seemed pretty full, and the beaches were packed. Traffic was an issue on the seawall most of the weekend, making it hard for emergency response personnel to move around. […]

Easter Wrap Up

A young boy and girl lay on a small sand dune. They were 3-4 years old and looked to be brother and sister. Although the day was not hot, the sand was nice and warm once the sun peeked out. They jabbered at each other while they piled the sand up and rolled around. A […]

OTB: Pre-Easter

The Easter holiday has been a big beach day for many years but has grown to be one of our major holidays. The seawall, beach parks, and west end have been packed on this weekend in recent history. For many people, particularly for families, going to the beach on Easter Weekend is a tradition. For […]

OTB – Wave Watchers

The Beach Patrol has been fortunate for many, many years to have great support from the community and county. We are so lucky that the hard work our guards do is recognized and appreciated and we recognize that this is something we continually need to strive to maintain. That’s a big part of why we […]

OTB – Beach Safety Information

There’s nothing better than Galveston beaches for getting toes in the sand, sun on the face, and your daily dose of salt! We’re here to help you do it safely. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol www.galvestonislandbeachpatrol.com  is certified as an “advanced” level agency of the United States Lifesaving Association www.usla.org , and is the designated […]

OTB – Spring Break Kickoff

Tomorrow morning at 7am we will be holding the first lifeguard tryout of the season. If you know anyone who is interested in taking on the tough but rewarding job of joining the team that protects over 7 million people that visit our beaches annually, tell them to meet us at the UTMB Field House […]

OTB – Spring Break and SSN

Looks like all signs point to yet another big Spring Break! Seems like one day its winter and the next the sun’s out, the water’s warm, and the beaches are packed. Despite the fact that we’ve just been through an ice storm and are a year into the Covid pandemic, we all need to gear […]

OTB – Season Starting

The beach water temperature dropped down to 45 degrees during the ice storm. And two weeks from now we’ll be starting the main week of spring break. Must be Texas. We’ll be holding lifeguard tryouts that weekend as well on Saturday, March 13th, at 7am at UTMB Pool House, 301 Holiday Dr. Anyone interested can […]

OTB: African American Lifeguard Heroes!

Last week’s column was an overview of our local lifeguarding history that left off with the time that African American beaches were designated by law and by Galveston’s dominant culture of the time. To talk about this part of our collective beach history I have to lean on someone who knows much more about this […]

OTB: African American Beaches

Seeing two heads near the rocks on the west side of the groin at 27th, I flipped on the overheads, pulled a U turn, radioed for backup, parked, grabbed fins and a rescue tube, and sprinted towards the beach. Subtleties in the way the heads moved, the location they were in the rip current, and […]

OTB – Gtown Lifesaving up till 50’s

We’ve got about a month before lifeguard tryouts. Spread the word to anyone interested and tell them to start swimming and check our website for details! We’re going to need a lot of new guards to address the increased beach use that’s been trending. With just a few weeks left before the beach kicks into […]

OTB Fog

Warm air and cold water these days. Spring weather. This combination brings in one of the best and worst phenomena along the beachfront. Sea fog. It can be totally clear, and a big bank of fog can roll in unexpectedly. And since the whole coastal plains area is full of water, this fog can extend […]

OTB Winter Conditions

Now that winter is fully here water activities take on a new dimension. Whether you’re out there surfing, kite boarding, swimming, kayaking, fishing, or any number of other activities there is a greater possibility that a small over site could turn into a major emergency. Hypothermia, or reduced body temperature, is the major threat. Once […]

Cold Winter Months

Cold water is no joke. But lifeguards have to respond regardless of the conditions, so we train in and for cold water rescues. Even when we’re building towers, working on signage, or even working in the office we have to be ready at a moment’s notice to enter the water, potentially for prolonged periods, if […]

January 6th

It’s difficult to write about anything not related to the unbelievable tragedy that befell our country on January 6th. It’s hard to think about anything else. Not just because I’ve been a peace officer for almost a quarter of a century, or a first responder for close to four decades. But as a citizen, as […]

Happy New Year!

We have worked for many years with the lifeguards in our sister city of Veracruz, Mexico. After awhile I grew to love not only the city and people, but the entire coastline. When my wife and I had our little girl, we drove down there for the course, stayed a few extra days, then toured […]

Happy Holidays

A line of 10and 11 year old kids waited, twitching. Their hands tight on the handles of rescue boards. “Go!” yelled the instructor. They carried the boards to the water, laid the boards down, and pushed them until they got about waist deep. Then they jumped on top and started paddling. Once they got up […]

Waves

It was a bad idea. Archie Kalepa led the group as we swam towards the cliff face. Archie is the former Chief of Lifeguards in Maui, world renowned big wave surfer and Hawaiian living legend. The problem with being Archie’s friend is that he is a giving soul and is real comfortable in big water. […]

Sharks

Nat Geo was in town this week to talk sharks and along with a couple of people who were bitten back in 2004, interviewed me about beach dangers. Back then we had three documented shark bites in one summer. Our average comes to about a bite every two years. Like anything that doesn’t mean a […]

San Diego

The last two columns targeted the history of the lifeguard service of Galveston, which dates all the way back to 1875. Galveston and the Houston area have grown significantly in the years since then, and we’ve all had to adapt as a community, including the Beach Patrol. We now see over 7 million visitors annually […]

Galveston Island Beach Patrol History

In the 1800s, Galveston Island was one of the largest cities in Texas and one of the more important ones in the country. Much of this was due to it being a great natural port for the shallow draft boats of the time. Before that time, the United States Life Saving Service was created in […]

Lifesaver

A lone figure wound his way down the shoreline through the dark night. He picked his way carefully along the uneven surface using a lantern to see. The night was cold and windy as a mix of sleet and rain caused him to readjust his woolen coat. There was no ambient light, and he passed […]

Shoulder Season

Driving down the seawall last Monday, I spotted a couple of people right next to the rocks towards the end of the 53rd street rock groin. They were right in the dangerous area. Thinking I only had seconds, I flipped on the overheads and made a U turn. Once I was off the wall and […]

Respect The Water

The young scanned the pool frantically and couldn’t see her toddler anywhere, until she heard the other adults gasp and point up to the high dive. Her son crawled up the ladder, out on the board, and jumped off. He sank directly to the bottom of the deep end. Using superhuman mom power, she beat […]

Drownings

We’ve had three drowning fatalities in the past two weeks. For us, it’s hard not to think, or in this case write, about anything else. The first one was eerily familiar. Many of you recall that last year, just a few days after our seasonal lifeguards ended their 7-month term of employment, two kids died […]

Seasonal Guards

The first weekend after the clock ran out on our Seasonal Lifeguard coverage was something else. As we say people were “all down up in that beach”. They were in the water, on the sand, driving around in golf carts, trying to swim in the no swimming areas by the rocks and at the ends […]

Support

I’ve been working on a really interesting side project for awhile now. For 20 years, on behalf of the United States Lifesaving Association, I’ve been part of a national task force between the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On the NOAA end, its specifically the National Weather […]

Drowning

This is the last weekend we’ll be working lifeguards in towers for the season, after which time we’ll pull the towers off the beach for refurbishment. We are held to a 7-month timeframe for the seasonal lifeguard and park staff and, since the season starts in March with Spring Break, we’re at the end of […]

Impermanence

Yet another reminder that all the things we want to be constant slip away, and we are in a constantly changing reality. Even this smallish tropical storm drastically changed the beach. On the beach you are more acutely aware of the vulnerability of our existence and the need to constantly adapt to new realities. It’s […]

Teenager Days

When I was 11 or so, I started at a new school and met Kevin, Jack, and Steve, who had foam boards, bikes, and were already surfing. The four of us lived in the same area and started riding to the beach whenever there were waves. We got wetsuits with beaver tails and were hooked. […]

Labor Day Weekend

Early afternoon last Sunday we got a 911 call of a boat running loose in English Bayou. Sergeant Austin Kirwin and Senior Lifeguard Daniel Gutierrez responded. On 61st they could see an unoccupied boat dragging a ski rope that was causing it to run in circles, as it gradually made its way east towards the […]

Labor Day Weekend Tips

Coming off a storm is interesting to say the least. We lost many, many signs along the beachfront and have been working to get them all back up as fast as we can. Our accounting department, staff, and local vendors have been incredibly helpful. And our guards who volunteer for the hard work of jetting […]

Emergency Plan

We really dodged a bullet this week. Unfortunately that’s not the case to many, many of our neighboring communities. Even though we didn’t take a direct hit, this is a clear message that occasionally our number comes up. The tough thing is that if you didn’t evacuate and nothing happened, it reinforces the idea that […]

Galveston Island Beach Patrol Statement Regarding Tropical Storm Laura

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Galveston, Texas – The beaches will have very dangerous conditions for the next few days. Beach Parks will be closed starting 08-25-20 and we will be flying red flags for the next few days. Please stay far from piers and jetties. Good swimmers who are adults shouldn’t go above the waist and everyone […]

Storm Season

Wading up to the wooden steps through the muddy water that smelled faintly of sewage, I laid my rescue board on the top of the porch and pounded on the front door. A woman came out and tried to hand me a mid-sized flat screened TV, followed by three kids all carrying pretty random objects […]

Staffing Difficulties

Staffing has been a real issue for us on the Beach Patrol for about three years now. At full strength, we run 135 Seasonal Lifeguards, in addition to the 15 full and part time employees we have. Our seasonal numbers have been more along the lines of 100-110. When we’re short handed we still do […]

Sooner or Later

Sitting in the middle of storm season brings all kinds of things to mind. Have you ever seen the pictures of the amazing structures that existed before the 1900 storm? Huge wooden beach pavilions that stretch into the water. Galveston was such a draw and such an important place at the time we neared the […]

A Dynamic Environment

If you’ve been on the beach anytime in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve had day after day of wind running parallel down the beach. And then, on top of that, we had extreme conditions over the weekend. This does some pretty interesting things to the bottom, which affect the safety […]

Lifeguard Bower Rescue

It was a rough, windy, morning. Clouds scudded across the sky pushed by a strong wind from the west. The water was brownish because of currents pushing up from the mouth of the clay colored Brazos river. The 8-year-old boy floated along on his boogie board. As he neared the 61st street rock groin, a […]

Mexico Trip

Almost 20 years ago Vic Maceo and I went to Veracruz, Mexico with a contingency from Galveston which included the city manager, Steve Leblanc, Gilbert Zamora, and others. Veracruz and Galveston had set up a sister city arrangement, so we went down for Carnival. They were excellent hosts, but we felt bad because it was […]

Holiday Weekend Wrap Up

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July Weekend, despite the weird thing of not being to celebrate it on the beach. Big news here is we’ll be having yet another lifeguard academy. Tryouts are Monday, July 13th, and info is on our website. We spent most of our weekend doing the unenviable task of […]

4th of July Safety Tips

Happy 4th of July Weekend! For lots this is all about grilling and chillin on the beach, and I’m sure even with the spike in Corona cases, we’ll still see plenty of people on the beach and elsewhere on the island. It’s hard to believe how fast summer flies by, especially when you’re busy. This […]

Captain

After Hurricane Ike there was a very clear psychological effect on the general population. Right afterwards there was this sort of heightened manic cheerfulness that slowly seemed to turn sour in a number of different ways. A psychologist friend told me that he felt like we were all suffering from group post-traumatic stress that was […]

Galveston is Booming

Summer, summer, summer… The water is now up in the 80s and crowds are above anyone’s expectations. Driving down the seawall on the afternoons makes you face the fact that Galveston is booming despite a pandemic. The beach is in full effect. The lifeguards are doing a great job and the new rookies are integrating […]

Busy Weekend

The storm swell arrived Saturday afternoon with some beautiful little ground-swell waves. A few surfers made it out to enjoy the conditions before it got dark. But by then the unusually large beach crowds we’ve been seeing merged with a very peaceful looking protest, and a large social media driven event. It was everything we […]

Busy Holiday Weekend

Two swimmers entered the water late in the evening at the San Luis Pass. A strong outgoing tidal flow had already carved a steep drop off. The falling tide was exacerbated by having to funnel through the gap between Galveston Island and Brazoria County. A friend of the two people called 911 and a call […]

Memorial Day Advice

It’s hard to believe that we’re already to Memorial Weekend! Looks like sunny skies for the most part, some surf and a bit windy, but overall, really nice weather. It’s a little bittersweet this year because this is usually the end of our “hell week” where we have a large mass casualty exercise, the “night […]

Together we can

Seems like during any type of crisis many of us struggle with filtering. Filtering information, increased need from others, and/or filtering the tasks that fill each day or the time each one takes. Some people have a vastly increased load and others are looking for ways to fill the day. I’m sure lots of you […]

Cinco De Corona

The 5-year-old girl was lost, although she didn’t know it. She had been playing in front of her parents and went a little deeper. A current pulled her parallel to shore as she played, bobbing with the flow. Suddenly, the sand bar she’d been standing on dropped off suddenly. She wasn’t able to swim, so […]

Family

I have a brother that lives in Bogota, Colombia.  He and his wife can’t go out together. And when they leave one at a time, they can only go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or doctor’s office. The police stop them and ask questions each time they leave. My brother is a runner, so he’s […]

We’ll get Through This Together

We really appreciate all the calls etc. about people who have not been following the beach ban order. We’re doing the best we can to stay on top of all of this. It’s been tough, especially on the West End. We have 4-6 vehicles a day on the beaches dedicated to just keeping them clear […]

Recover and Rebuild

Corona’s effects on our beach are both eerily familiar and completely foreign all at the same time. But Galveston, like the rest of the world’s beaches, has had a long history of disruptions. Reading accounts from the 1800’s there are times when the bay and parts of the beach water froze completely over. You could […]

Beach Closures

I want to hand it to my staff and the Galveston Police officers who are out there day after day keeping people off of the beaches. This is hard for everyone and they have not faltered or complained, even though they’re putting up with a lot. Right now the lifeguard trucks alone are moving a […]

Beach Closures

It’s amazing how quickly our lives change. Last week we were out enjoying some really nice beach moments as the Corona cloud started to close in. Suddenly the Mayor and City Manager made the difficult decision last Sunday to close the beaches. If you drove down the seawall last Sunday afternoon right before we stared […]

Beyond Coronavirus

It’s hard to think about anything but Corona right now. It’s all we hear about, and I feel like I just go from one meeting about Corona to another about the economic impact of Corona on the tourist industry. Then we worry about our budget which now relies 100% on hotel tax. But since I […]

Spring Break Updates

Spring Break has been interesting this year. So far, we’ve had quite a few people down on the island, but the weather has alternately been very near perfect or awful. Cold water and warm air have also resulted in quite a bit of sea fog, which makes guarding a real challenge. But every time the […]

Wash Your Hands!

It seems like the Corona virus has taken over our lives. Its already affected us at a pretty profound level even before most of us knows anyone that catches it. Even on the beach there is quite a lot of uncertainty, as we don’t really have a feel how schools being out or converting to […]

Spring Break!

Tomorrow, Saturday March 7 it all starts. We have lifeguard tryouts at 7am and will begin training the ones who pass immediately afterwards. Returning guards will do their swim test, drug screen, and rehire paperwork and many will head to the towers to start their first day of guarding of the season. And, of course, […]

Flag Conditions

We are only a week away from lifeguard tryouts and we’re hoping for a big turnout on Saturday the 7th of march. Info is on our website. We’re also right on beach season, so were pushing out public safety information to remind people to be safe. One area that’s important is our Flag Warning System. […]

Organizational Management Philosophy

I hope you are either avoiding the Mardi Gras festivities or diving into the fray, depending on your preference. For me, Mardi Gras marks the beginning of the tourist season and is the point where we switch from preparations to going into a more operational mode. Of course, this season has been so warm and […]

Full Time Staff Competition

High stepping into the frigid water we all chose different strategies. Some circled wide, choosing to run a little farther up the beach to account for a moderate lateral current. Others went straight in. Muffled sounds of discomfort were heard over the breaking surf as they hit the first trough and started a series of […]

Rude Dog

The motorcycle came careening across the sand of the packed beach. It almost fell, swerved barely missing a couple of small children playing in the sand, then overcompensated and barely missed an umbrella with a family under it. Rudy Betancourt, AKA “Rude Dog”, stepped up to the guy on the bike, who looked more than […]

Warmer Conditions

Comparing this winter to last, we’ve had much warmer conditions so far. It looks like we’re already to our early Spring pattern of repeated fronts coming through and we haven’t even had anything close to a freeze yet. The beach water barely dipped into the upper 50’s once and has mostly sat in the lower […]

Join the Family!

Even though it’s still winter we’ve got just over a month before Spring Break is here. The beach parks kick off on March 8th, but the beaches will be getting busy before that. Our full-time staff, between patrolling, answering emergency calls, and putting the finishing touches on our lifeguard towers, are already starting to do […]

Ship Channel Accident

This week we spend quite a bit of time on the water in the ship channel area helping the Coast Guard look for two people that were missing after a tragic boating. These types of searches often start out simply but end up going into all types of different worlds. When they happen, I’m always […]

Fisherman Rescue

Sometimes rescues are not as dramatic as they are interesting. A couple of days before Christmas we received a direct call from a local resident who was worried about his son right as the sun was setting. He called our main number which automatically rolls over to our “on call” phone when no one is […]

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Winter goes quickly in Galveston. Before you know it, the beaches will be filling up again and we’ll start the cycle all over again. We all make resolutions for the new year. We change our diet, commit to exercising more often, promise ourselves we’ll be more patient with difficult people or work […]

Winter Days

I love a lot of things about Galveston. These magic winter days where the rest of the country is freezing, and our beaches are full of people are a reminder of how good we have it in our little corner of the planet. This year has been especially beautiful. For us, this is a time […]

Rest in Peace Bob Burnside

“Bob you know you’re not supposed to smoke in this house!”, Annette said as she walked up and reached out to take his cigarette out of his hand. He pivoted in his chair, crazy blue eyes meeting her concerned look, and ever so slowly blew a cloud of smoke in her face without looking away. […]

Rip Currents

Over the past few years a pretty vibrant dialogue going on worldwide related to rip currents and how to best keep people safe around them has been taking place. As you all (hopefully) know, a rip current is a channel of water moving away from shore resulting from waves, current and bottom topography. In Galveston […]

Veracruz

Early morning sunlight slanted off of the water as two parallel columns of potential guards jogged through knee deep water at Playa del Muerto in Boca Del Rio, Mexico. Mixed with the bird calls, sounds of waves and a slight breeze, was the raspy panting sounds of the group’s efforts. Strain showed on the faces […]

What Goes Around Comes Around

A man I know from the beach is a regular on the east end. He trolls regularly with his metal detector and sometimes pulls up some pretty cool stuff. These guys love it when we get a strong north wind which blows the water way out, particularly at low tide. On these days they can […]

Winter Dangers

We’re in our typical crazy winter Galveston pattern of weather now, so there are some important things to be aware of when on the water. With recent water temps in the 60’s, getting out on the water requires more foresight and preparation than during warmer months. A quick dip in the water when you’re a […]

South Jetty Rescue of Four Boaters

The icy wind blasted across the rocks as the two wetsuit clad figures picked their way gingerly across the algae and barnacle covered surface in the darkness. No moon showed to help. Waves and spray threatened to wash them away. Dain Buck had a headlight and Kevin Anderson had a waterproof flashlight tucked under the […]

Beach Patrol Safety Precautions

Last week I talked about how we deploy each day and some of the nuances of how we operate. There are some underlying principals that we follow that are related, in that they dictate how we operate with regards to safety of our employees and/or the beach going public. These give a look behind the […]

Operations

Here’s how Beach Patrol operates on a normal day: 7:15AM- “A Shift” Supervisor truck calls in service. As they patrol, they put up the appropriate colored flags at the 5 seawall locations, post the flag color and any special advisories on the website, report the rip current threat level to the National Weather Service Houston/Galveston […]

Cold Front

Cold front after cold front have been rolling in. We are now in my favorite time of the year, with moderate temperatures, warm water, some surf, and variable conditions. But this comes with specific hazards. Changing winds can take people by surprise. On the beachfront a switch to offshore wind can blow you offshore. Once […]

Change Overtime

A group of 17 stood in the sand outside of a green and white trailer at Stewart Beach. Their feet were so dark they had a greenish tint against the white sand because they worked with minimal sun protection. Walkie talkies were issued as they joked around and made plans for after work. In 1983 […]

Pleasure Pier Rescue

Late in the day on Sunday, September 29th two young women entered the water underneath the Pleasure Pier. It was a very rough day with red flag warnings and rip current advisories, and the beach was crowded with thousands of swimmers in the water. This late in the year we didn’t have enough guards to […]

This Coming Year

We just finished the budget process for the Beach Patrol’s next year and I gave a short presentation on Beach Patrol in general, the coming year, and where we’re headed to our Board of Directors. I though selected parts of this might be of interest. I think it helps get the point across that we […]

Public Safety

Dropping off the seawall heading west on 3005 I spotted a man lying in the middle of the road. Two other guys were attempting to help him up and pull him to the side. There were a couple of cars parked all crazy on the side of the road. The man was bleeding on his […]

Jellyfish

Last week one morning I was training. I was alternating racing rescue board legs, running, and swim legs. This time of year, working out is just maintaining skills and staying in decent shape for winter lifeguarding, so I was coasting along on my second swim thinking about something else, when I felt something I haven’t […]

Open Water Swimming

As the rookie lifeguard ran out into the water, she felt good at first. She lifted her legs up high just as the instructor told her. When she got to thigh deep water, she started “dolphin diving” by pushing off the bottom and doing shallow surface dives, propelling herself into deeper water quickly. She even […]

Busy Labor Day Weekened

Labor Day weekend was interesting. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions, with sunny skies, blue/green water that was pretty flat all but Monday, and almost no seaweed, jellyfish, or sea lice. The concentration of people on Sunday was impressive with moderately good crowds on the other days. Sunday afternoon it took me an hour […]

Labor Day

With Labor Day upon us we’re expecting several hundred thousand people to be on the island this weekend. That’s a lot of chances to have something go wrong. We’ve had a number of close calls in recent weeks. Most or all of these incidents happened at least partly due to momentary lapses in judgment. People […]

Lost Friends

As we move through this life there are some people who really make a difference. People we feel privileged to walk in tandem with, at least for a time. The hard thing for me is the feeling of loss when that time ends. There are two people that I really respect and appreciate that I […]

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol Family

At our National Lifeguarding Championships in Virginia Beach I was suddenly hit with a moment of clarity that was close to a revelation. Just like is often the case here in Galveston, there were so many things going on all at once. We had athletes from the Junior Guard program, U19, open, and age group […]

Taekwondo

Front kick-punch-punch, roundhouse-punch-punch, punch-punch-hook, back leg high roundhouse, punch-punch-hook-uppercut, back leg roundhouse. Raspy breath … sweat in my eye blurs vision…. “Four!”, Rick yells. Oh man I have so many more of these… focus… focus…. Try to control breathing…. “Retract those kicks!”, yells Grand Master Robles from the other side of the room. I grunt […]

Hardworking Guards

Typically, the month of August sees some calm, hot weather. We’re now in the latter part of summer and things are still not dying down. We continue to have wind and current with some fairly strong rip currents near the rock groins. It has been calming down a bit and we’ve finally started seeing an […]

Lifeguard Sport Competitions

Years ago, the original inhabitants of this part of the world held periodic gatherings which included athletic competitions that highlighted skills needed to survive and thrive. These were opportunities to share information and new ideas, forge and maintain social connections, and renew commitment to a way of life. As open water lifeguards we continued that […]

Park Board Maintenance Department

Whether it’s a cold, rainy day in February or a steamy early morning in July early in the morning figures walk along the beach in front of a pickup’s lights. By 5am the west end crew of the Park Board Coastal Zone Management Department are already out handpicking trash left beachgoers or washed in with […]

San Luis Pass Rescue

Daniel Gutierrez and Cameron Larson eased the jet ski up to Bird Island, which sits in the bay very near the San Luis Pass cut. A couple of people were stranded on the island because their jet ski had been caught by a falling tide and was stuck on the island. They found out about […]

Have a Safe 4th of July!

Hard to believe we’re already to the 4th of July holiday! Summer is flying by. We’re fully staffed, as are the other emergency services. But with up to 500 thousand visitors on the island this weekend, make sure you think of us as an added layer of protection and take protective measures to ensure your […]

San Luis Pass Patrol

Halaen Betancourt was working our San Luis Pass Patrol last weekend and rolled up on a large group of adults and kids swimming in the ship channel. Most of them were in shallow water, with a few of them farther out. There was an area which was pretty shallow which was semi protected by an […]

Sunday Race Day

The sun was just peeking over a horizon and the rough, windblown surf showed pink highlights as we lined up. Legs vibrated and hands showed white knuckles on our racing boards as the call came out, “Paddlers take your mark…. GO!” The current swept from west to east, but I hedged my bets by lining […]

22nd Annual BBQ Fundraiser!

Party Time! The Galveston Island Beach Patrol will hold its 22nd Annual BBQ Fundraiser and Silent Auction today, Friday, June 14, 2019 from 6 pm – 10 pm on 24th Street between Church and Post Office. This location is in front of the Press Box restaurant and will be a lot of fun. BBQ dinner […]

Upcoming Events

There have been some crazy conditions lately. Water already hit 88 degrees, multiple high tide and rain events flooding the beaches, tons of rough days with really strong rip currents, and some completely flat still days. It’s hard to know what’s coming next. Our philosophy is that we just plan for every day to be […]

Busy Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend was a big one. Saturday started off like a normal busy weekend, but by Sunday afternoon we were at full throttle. There was a moment later in the day on Sunday that we were working a possible double drowning, a swimmer in distress that was rescued but had to go to the […]

Memorial Weekend!

It’s hard to believe that we’re already to Memorial Weekend! Looks like sunny skies, some surf and high tides, but overall really nice weather. If you’re one of the several hundred thousand we’ll see on the beach this weekend remember to be safe while you’re out having fun. Specifically, swim near a lifeguard, stay far […]

Beach Safety Week

We’re in the middle of a lifeguard academy and lots more. We ended up with about 20 candidates out of the almost 40 that attempted the tryouts. But these 20 have some pretty serious challenges ahead of them in their 100-hour course that they have to complete before being able to work the beaches. Next […]

Upcoming Events!

Game time! Tomorrow morning (Saturday, May 11th) at 7am Lifeguard Candidates will line up to attempt to become Galveston Island Beach Patrol lifeguards. Those that complete the swim will be interviewed, submit to a drug screening, and join our Spring graduates in a run-swim-run challenge. If they get through all these obstacles, they’ll start the […]

Cinco De Mayo

In case you haven’t noticed this beach season started with a bang and has been rolling in like a freight train. Last weekend was packed, and this weekend we’re looking at Cinco De Mayo, which has become a big beach holiday. The following weekend will be another big one with Gay Splash Day on Sunday […]

Team Work!

Easter Weekend brought it all together. Beautiful sunny weather with highs in the low 70s, water close to 70 degrees, and north winds that pushed the water out making lots and lots of beach. After so many rainy and cold spring weekend days people were chomping at the bit. And they came in droves. Traveling […]

Easter Weekend

We’re already to Easter, which for many is the real kickoff for beach time. We know its Easter because John’s Beach Service is about to roll out hundreds of umbrella and chair set ups for the first time of the year at Stewart Beach. Max Wilson, with help from his brother, Walter, has run this […]

Paint by Numbers

Despite all the crazy weather, the swim part of the Triathlon went off pretty well. The team of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Police Department Marine Division Dive Team, Jamaica Beach Fire Rescue, Ironman crew, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Kayak club, collectively got nearly 3,000 athletes safely back to shore. All told there were 47 […]

Sea of Swimmers

The sea of swimmers looks like mullet swimming all over each other. The start of the triathlon is hard to guard as waves of over 100 swimmers start every 5 minutes. Beach Patrol lifeguards, Police, Sheriff Deputies, along with other groups in kayaks, Jetskis, and boats watch over the masses, trying to pick out the […]

Wave Watchers

The lifeguard at tower 61 was getting a little overwhelmed.  She was moving as fast as she could but the current kept moving swimmers towards the dangerous area by the rocks. She barely had time to move swimmers and get back to her tower before jumping back down. As she climbed up to her tower, […]

Athletes Committee

IT was a hot, humid early morning in June. Kevin Anderson looked like he was about to bust. He was sweating and red, his breath came in raspy gasps, and he was on the verge of collapse. We slowed the pace until he was able to get back to a baseline, then picked it up […]

Hypothermia

In last week’s column I mentioned the danger of hypothermia as a result of swimming in the cold beach water. While most of us know the basics of what hypothermia is there is specific information that could be helpful, especially when swimming during the colder months. The Mayo Clinic describes Hypothermia as “a medical emergency […]

Spring Break

Mardi Gras is the official kick off of the tourist season, but Spring break is definitely the sign that the beach season is underway. We have lifeguard tryouts tomorrow. There is information on our website. We will have the first annual Lifeguard Academy running during Spring Break. We also have many of our returning seasonal […]

Do You Have What It Takes?

At 7am in the morning a group of swimmers stand near the pool getting a briefing. In groups of 10 they enter their assigned lanes and swim 10 laps, which is 500 meters. About half of them make it under the required time. These are interviewed and take a drug test. Those that make it […]

Lifeguards for Life

With its tin roof the small house looked unassuming. It was precariously perched on the side of a steep hill with other houses. Vegetables grew in small plots interspaced with clothing lines and chickens clucked, scratched and pecked. I paid the Taxista and walked up the manicured path to the door. As I raised my […]

Joe Max Taylor

The annual “Disco Dog Party” was in full swing when one of the guards paddled up on a board to the tip of the south jetty wearing full disco regalia. Hot dogs were cooking, music was playing, and lifeguards were dancing to KC. The guard said he’d paddled up in the dark to a boat […]

Foggy Days

Sitting in the lineup waiting for a wave, the small pack of surfers could barely make out the dark silhouette of the rock groin. The heavy fog and lack of wind made for an eerie scene. They could hear voices from surfers at the next groin and from people walking on the beach, even when […]

Lifeguard Program

The first day I worked for the Beach Patrol was in 1983. I stood in the sand early in the morning waiting to get my radio which was passed to me out of our “Headquarters”, which was a smallish trailer in the sand next to the old pavilion on Stewart Beach. There were 17 of […]

Polar Plunge

Last Saturday 6 Lifeguards volunteered to come out and stand in the 54-degree water keeping watch for almost 300 people who participated in the Polar Plunge. They were freezing cold when they came out of over an hour in the water wearing only 3-millimeter wetsuits. Amazing that they chose to do that during a time […]

Galveston Crabs

A tourist was walking down the beach in Galveston and saw hunched over figure up ahead of him on the shoreline. The early morning sun glinted off the water, so he couldn’t make out what he saw until he got closer. Finally, he was able to tell that it was an old weather-beaten man who […]

Sergeant

Happy New Year! We’ve been systematically working on finishing repairs to our lifeguard towers, replacing signage and rescue boxes, and a bunch of training. Some of the training includes a report writing course, Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Training, and Swift Water Rescue Training Certification. Before we hit the beach in earnest, we also have planned […]

Spring Training

The mission statement of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) includes that we “work to reduce the incidence of death and injury in the aquatic environment through public education, national lifeguard standards, training programs, promotion of high levels of lifeguard readiness, and other means.” Much of this happens when many of us gear up during […]

Japanese Coastline

We pulled up a little before first light and parked under an overpass. We sat in the van as the world turned slowly from black to dark grey. The guys spoke quietly in Japanese, but even without understanding the words I could detect an underlying tension and excitement to their voices. A big swell was […]

When Things go South With a Offshore Wind

Even though we train our lifeguards very thoroughly, there’s no substitute for experience. Even guards who have been with us for a number of years can, at times, make dangerous mistakes without the safety net of more experienced guards around them. We had an incident earlier this week that was a wake-up call to how […]

Winter Workout

You stand on the beach, wind whipping around you and easily penetrating your wetsuit. The air temperature is in the mid 50’s, but the real feel temp is in the 40’s. It feels wrong to be standing exposed, really wrong to be about to get in the water, which is in the mid 50’s. The […]

“Prevent, Rescue, Enforce, Educate and Train”

For a few months our newer full-time staff members have been getting acclimated to their new jobs. Josh Bailey is one of the 6 new hires we made in October. He’s a great addition to the staff and brings special skills to our team.  He was originally from Nebraska, then Oklahoma, California, and eventually attended […]

Water Safety

Before you get to beach safety, there are a number of precautions that should be in effect. They are like the stepping stones you take before you even get to the point where you would swim in the surf. Water Safety USA is a national group composed of 14 of the major players involved in water safety and […]

Being Grateful

This is the time of year lots of us try to focus on things that we feel thankful for. So many things come to mind for me. My staff, who always go the extra mile when it comes to protecting and rescuing people. All the volunteers with the Survivor Support Network and Wave Watchers who […]

Understanding Waves

The wind blew across the surface of the smooth surface of the Gulf of Mexico. After awhile little ripples began to form. Then they combined to form tiny swells. The water molecules themselves didn’t move far. Instead, they passed the energy from one to the next, and this energy moved through the water causing these […]

Season Recap

Fortunately, we are now in the position to run lifeguard patrols throughout the year. As the temperature cools, we’ll drive the entire beach front and, in addition to our lifesaving responsibilities, be able to devote attention to things like driving in prohibited areas, glass and alcohol enforcement, leash law enforcement, driving in sand dunes, and […]

Wet Suit Season

Very soon we’ll see some real temperature shifts and we’ll be looking at much colder water conditions. Some people will continue their beach activities as usual, and with increasing beach use in the off season our staff must be prepared. Starting next week our year-round staff is required to do at least one long training […]

Community

The past week was a tough one. Not just for the families and friends of the people who died in the ocean, but for the first responders who worked the events. It’s hard enough for us as residents to hear about tourists and locals who drown in our beach waters, but when it involved children […]

Year-round Beach Destination

This has been a tough week. Five drownings (4 beach one bay), two of them children, and only three have been recovered. My staff and our partners in Galveston Marine Response, Coast Guard, and the Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network have done an admiral job in very trying circumstances.   One thing that helped was that the Beach […]

Hurricane Michael

Fortunately we dodged the Hurricane Michael bullet, but that was definitely a lesson to not let our guard down. Nevertheless we saw some pretty decent coastal flooding on Tuesday into Wednesday. My office looks out over the Stewart Beach parking lot and it was surreal to watch it when the storm surge moved in. We […]

Bitter Sweet

We’re perched on the brink. When the seasons change it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach water is in the low 70s, you’re working to stay warm instead of cool, and the days are much shorter. This weekend will be the last one for the seasonal employees and tower lifeguards to work. […]

You Will Be Missed!

As much as we’d like to keep things the same, things move on. On the Beach Patrol our Command Staff has, for a number of years, been comprised of three people- me, Captain Tony Pryor, and Lieutenant Kara Harrison. Kara has decided it’s time for her to move on from the Beach Patrol. I remember […]

Fiberglass Towers

The next Beach Patrol year’s budget was just approved by the Park Board and there are a couple of very significant changes coming up. When lightning comes in the area we walk a delicate balance between protecting the public and protecting the people who protect the public. Our policy, which meets national best practice, is […]

Dust Devil

Lifeguard 3 Michael Lucero was working the early shift at Stewart Beach last Sunday. It was looking to be a slow day with rain in the Houston area and not many people moving around on the beachfront yet. He watched over maybe 50 people on the beach, with 10 or so in the water. Since […]

Wrapping up Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend was interesting. Despite sketchy forecasts, each day by the afternoon we ended up with really nice conditions, some sunshine, moderate crowds, and nice water. On Monday it was especially nasty in the morning, so we put 18 guards “on call” and just worked the trucks until conditions improved. By the time the […]

A. R. “Babe” Schwartz

We lost a hero when A. R. “Babe” Schwartz moved on from this world recently. His flame burned both brighter and longer than most. Former Senator Schwartz, through all the twists and turns of his incredible career, never lost sight of the importance our Texas beaches play for the people of Texas. He never lost […]

Competitions

For beach lifeguards every rescue is a race against time. Beach guards routinely make rescues of people caught in large surf or rip currents who are 40-100 yards off shore. Sometimes the victims are much farther out. The guards have to swim through currents, waves, and sometimes sea life to reach the people who need […]

Personal Water Crafts

This has been one crazy summer. We’re in August and there are still tons of people moving around, the water has been choppy to rough with some pretty strong rip currents, and our call volume has been equivalent to days in May or June. Last weekend we moved a couple thousand people away from rip […]

Jetty Jump

The young woman crouched down on the slippery surface of the rocks. Her heart beat rapidly as she watched the guy in front of her navigate down the steep part. She tried to ignore the cuts on the top of her foot from the last try. “This time I’ll get it right”, she thought to […]

61 Rescue

Early on Saturday morning Supervisor Nikki Harclerode was putting the condition flags up at the stations on the seawall. She was placing the flag in the holder at 61st street. She was the only lifeguard out there as even the “A” shift guards were still out doing their pre-work training session. Nikki is a very […]

Junior Guard

A group of kids stand in a row in front of their rescue boards along the shoreline wearing yellow tank jerseys and carrying their rescue tubes on one hand. Some of them are vibrating slightly as they get ready to go into action. They then grab their boards and stand on the line. The instructor […]

San Luis Pass

At the San Luis Pass, the tide change flows through a gap only about a mile across. It bottlenecks and accelerates the tidal current tremendously. So roughly every 6 hours it changes directions and builds up to full strength. The entire pass is very dangerous, but there are two spots that catch the brunt of […]

Holiday Weekend

The morning shift is already out working as the afternoon shift shows up. After clocking in they all run down to the beach to swim, run, and review some type of skill. This morning was hand signals, the other day it was CPR or components of a rescue. They then pile up to the headquarters […]

Tower 47 Rescue

Mark Porretto was helping out with the beach service umbrellas early in the morning one day last weekend at 47th. You may recall that the water was extremely rough, and on this day the current was running from west to east with big surf. Mark and I grew up together on the beach. He’s a […]

Annual BBQ Fundraiser!

Wow! Hard to believe how fast summer is moving. Tonight is our annual BBQ fundraiser. Come down to the Press Box at 24th and Post Office from 6 till 10pm. You can get a ticket at the door for fifteen bucks. You’ll have great food cooked by people who understand great BBQ- the Galveston Rugby […]

Big Crowds

The Beach Patrol has had a rough season so far. Much of this has been covered in the news and I’ll cover some of this in a future column. But last weekend we saw what is probably the busiest weekend we’ve had in a few years. Many have attributed this to the news stories that […]

Memorial Day for the Books

It’s rare that all the elements come together for a perfect weekend on a holiday. This year’s Memorial Weekend did. Three perfect days in a row. The sun was out, the winds were light. It was warm but not hot. And the water ranged from all the way flat to a very slight groundswell rolling […]

Memorial Day Weekend!

All the preparation is done. The equipment is ready, the planning is over, and the time for preparation transitions to the time for action. This week had a great drill to help sharpen our communication strategies and rescue techniques among our group and between our emergency response partners. We finalized plans and schedules and met […]

Come Support Your Local Lifeguards!

We’re putting together the final pieces for the busy season. We’re finishing up a lifeguard academy, finalizing our recurrent training for seasonal lifeguards, planning an awards and promotion ceremony for our staff, and scrambling to put all the pieces in place before summer kicks in for real. There are two events that you may want […]

Become a Lifeguard, Save a Life!

Here is an excerpt from a rescue report that was filed from last Sunday: “Tower 43 (Lifeguard Suarez) called in moving swimmers out too far. Unit 297 (Supervisor Venegas and Supervisor Garcia) made scene. The lifeguard gave the “OK” signal and started to escort the swimmer on the rescue tube back to shore. Midway back […]

Sailboat Rescue

It was an absolutely beautiful evening with clear skies and a stiff wind. The elderly couple and their neighbor sailed around the south jetty and prepared to watch a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, things went horribly wrong when their boat began having problems and they started drifting uncontrollably towards the rocks. At 02:13am our “On Call” […]

Wave Watchers

A group of people stood near the end of the rock groin at 37th street. They took turns removing the ring buoy and attached throw bag from the rescue box and throwing it to an imaginary victim in the water. The trick is to make sure the loop on the outside of the bag is […]

Rescue

The group of 10 or so middle school students came to the 24th street beach early. They were well away from the designated “no swim” area, about midway between the rocks and the Pleasure Pier. 5 of the kids went in the water for a swim. What they didn’t notice is that there was a […]

Memorial Hermann IRONMAN 70.3 Texas

It’s not too late to sign up for our “Wave Watcher’s Academy” which starts next Monday! Info is on our website. Last week one morning I went for a swim at the amazing new city pool. The water was just right, but as I got through my warm up set I started feeling really slow. […]

Easter Weekend

I went for a run really early the other morning on the west end. This is the time of year that the beach is just perfect. The temperature is cool but not cold in the morning and the water is warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit. There are not many people on the […]

Causeway Rescue

The young man was in his early 20’s and was wearing a black suit and a black backpack. He was dressed for his own funeral as he stood in ankle deep water. He had waded out near the causeway bridge. One of the best cops and nicest people you’ll ever meet, Alfredo Lopez, was talking […]

Wave Watchers Academy

Spring Break ended up being very “Spring Break-ish”. The weather ended up being absolutely perfect and last weekend the beaches were full. We scrambled to keep swimmers safe, getting to hundreds before they got themselves in trouble in the rip currents by the groins. There weren’t many crowd issues in town, but the party crowd […]

Beach Season is Here!

It’s was so nice all week to see good weather and everyone out enjoying the beach. There’s always such a quick transition from winter’s empty beaches to spring. Seeing kids on the playground at Stewart Beach, teens playing Frisbee or throwing a ball on the shoreline, people fishing and bird watching, and families along the […]

Spring Break Tryouts!

Spring Break is here! We have lifeguard tryouts tomorrow (Saturday) morning at the City of Galveston Pool at Lasker Park at 2016 43rd starting at 7am rain or shine. Those who pass the swim, drug test, and interview will start the same day in the Lifeguard Academy and will be paid for their training time. […]

Galveston’s Lifesaving History Continued

Last week I wrote about the history of lifesaving in Galveston up to the late 1800’s. I’d like to continue that history, but  that our first lifeguard tryouts will be next week on Saturday 10th at the city pool on 29th and seawall at 7am. Information can be found at www.galvestonislandbeachpatrol.com . Spread the word! […]

Galveston’s Lifesaving History

Galveston’s lifesaving history is long and storied, much like Galveston herself. In the 1800s, Galveston Island was one of the largest cities in Texas. Galveston hosted the first post office (1836), naval base (1836), cotton compress (1842), a Catholic parochial school (Ursuline Academy, 1847), an insurance company (1854), and also the first gas lights (1856). […]

Swift Water

The first lifeguards were trying to spot shipwrecks and help the occupants off as best they could. Most of the work happened at night as sailing ships weren’t able to see hazards during the dark hours. It was cold and dangerous work, especially considering that very few people were able to swim at the time; […]

Summer Time is Almost Here

With this cold weather it’s hard to believe that we’re on the verge of starting beach season. We’ve started our daily patrols and it’s only a month till our first lifeguard tryouts and academy, which will happen over Spring Break. Our full time crew has been working hard to get everything ready for the season. […]

Leadership Training

As the 7 strangers sat in a circle around the table I briefly looked around and was surprised to see each person’s attention riveted on the speaker. The man in front of us was the team leader. He described a time in his life where he found his only son dead in the house. He […]

New Era of Rescue Services?

Recently some footage of what was reported to be the first real water rescue made by a drone at Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia went viral. There were two swimmers just outside the surf line kind of floating around. The footage was from the drone itself as it dropped this package from maybe 100 […]

Mind Over Matter

I guess it’s all in how you look at it. I hate the cold. I’d be happy if it never dipped below 80 degrees year round. I have a lot of friends through the International Lifesaving Federation from all over and I mentioned how cold it’s been here to  the head of the lifesaving federation […]

Cold Winter Days

I had a suggestion from a friend this week to write about how we deal with the cold water and air while working in the beach environment. It’s an interesting topic since even when we’re building towers, working on signage, or even working in the office we have to be ready at a moment’s notice […]

Lyle Gun

It was a moonless bitter cold night as the hooded figure walked along the beachfront. His long coat swirled around him as the icy rain and wind whipped through his clothes despite his efforts to keep them wrapped around his thin body. He held his lantern to the side so as not to hamper his […]

Botswana

Since 1983 I’ve missed one summer of lifeguarding in Galveston. That summer I missed was because after college I took a job teaching on a one year contract in Botswana, Africa and traveled at the end of my contract for about 9 months. My teaching job was in a small mining community on the edge […]

So Much To Be Thankful For

During the holiday season I try, as many of us do, to focus on the things I’m thankful for.  This year I asked each of our permanent staff members what they, as a representative of the Beach Patrol, feel most thankful for. Here are their responses: “…adequate resources to protect almost 7 million visitors a […]

Cold Foggy Days

The water temperature on the beachfront dropped 12 degrees in 3 days last week. This is a pretty dramatic shift as only a degree or two makes a significant difference when you’re swimming. Because the water is so shallow here on the upper Texas coast the water temperature is constantly changing during the fall and […]

Beach Front Improvements

As a teenager, when I had free time one of my favorite things to do was ride my bike on the seawall. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the beach was a big deal. Everyone I knew would ride bikes or hang out up there. Lifeguards and surfers ruled the day. As you’d ride […]

Tarzan of the Amazon

In 1976, at the age of 28, Kapax swam the length of the Magdalena River, a distance of over 1,000 miles. It took him about 5 weeks to do this. The Magdalena is a tributary of the Amazon River and Kapax, whose real name is Alberto Lesmes Rojas, was ahead of his time. We are […]

10th Anniversary of the Biggest Storm

I still remember how the water felt as I slogged down 16th street heading into the biting wind. How the grit had gotten in my water shoes and how saturated my skin felt after several hours in and out of the grimy water. The fear in my stomach as a transformer blew close by. Wondering […]

Water Safety

This week has been a great example of why Galveston in the fall is such a great combination. The water still hovers just over 70 degrees and the days have been beautiful. We still run patrol vehicles and are scheduled to do that until December 1st, at which time we’ll focus on rebuilding lifeguard towers, […]

Offshore Winds

If there’s one thing lifeguards hate on an offshore wind day is an emergency where a person is being blown out. When the wind blows offshore it creates a unique set of circumstances that can potentially be lethal. This is mostly a danger during the spring and fall when repeated frontal systems pass across the […]

Highlights of 2017

Every year when the season slows down we review our season to see how we did. I enjoy the process because it helps show how the Beach Patrol is an entire safety and educational network, as opposed to merely the lifeguard service for the city of Galveston.  The process also helps target areas we can […]

2017 Rescue Wrap Up

There are still plenty of swimmers and an occasional person blown offshore when these fronts come through. In fact, last Tuesday, Brandon Venegas and Micah Fowler made a rescue of a kite boarder that had some equipment problems and couldn’t make it back in. The end of the season gives us a chance to assess […]