Thursday, March 18, 2010
"BIG DAYS Past", by Bruce Morgan, LACo O.L., Ret.
(SMN Tower #15, Modern Day, Feb. 2010; Per Bruce, imagine this area as jammed packed for the purposes of this article.)
We all have days we remember. April 13, 1980, I was at Tower #15 on Santa Monica North partnered with another recurrent, Greg Bonann, who later created and executed produced the BAYWATCH television series. Greg and I had just sat down to relax after many foot patrols when eight or more male beach patrons walked into the water with jeans on.
(SMN Tower #15, modern day, Feb. 2010. Beach patrons and swimmers out front of Tower #15, modern day.)
This jean attire was a dead give away for drinking and other matters. Greg and I then briefly discussed the option of using the paddleboard or not with Greg communicating that with the beach crowd forming a thick wall of people, many rows deep, that the guard who commits to taking the board out on the sand has lost the big picture perspective. After considering this concern, I opted on the side of caution and I took our Tower #15 paddleboard out to advise all the clothed bathers to return to shore.
As I was paddling out, Greg saw each man sinking fast and made a call for back up and then headed for the water himself with his rescue can. I reached the victims and using the paddleboard I threw two victims, both drunk and aspirating, over the Big CON laco paddleboard, which in those days had a very good buoyancy factor. The CON was full with at least five victims hanging with the CON acting as, in effect, a "rescue island", while Greg and the back up guard approached. I then proceeded to swim to the last fool who I found only by his air bubbles. But one more appeared... yet a ninth victim, crying in the arms of a good samaritan-patron in deep water.
I gave this final and ninth victim my rescue can and just then Walley Reeves with Tom Pani gunned up the big engine of nearby Baywatch Santa Monica, which had been moored inside the north end of the adjacent Santa Monica Pier. Jimmy Makuta told me later by phone that I had prevented nine drownings. I also got a letter from the Captain, then called a Lieutenant, namely, Dan Culbert, asking me to work on schedule in his area, Santa Monica North.
After this late hour rescue that demanded such a strong response from LACo's vast lifeguard resources, Lt. Culbert drove down in his beach unit and observing more drunk bathers entering the water in our area just after the nine-victim rescue, and without any ceremony, put out a public announcement over his truck's PA system, and said: "Folks, its seven o'clock, we just stopped nine drownings, so just give us a break and go home !"
He then repeated this announcement and to my surprise people got up and left. Oh for the days when sensitivity and red tape were not issues.
Santa Monica Tower #15 is still a place I visit in dreams. But because I anticipated the next ten minute event - I don't let Tower #15 visit me in nightmares.
Ocean Lifeguard, Bruce R Morgan, Retired
("BIG DAYS Past", by Bruce Morgan. Copyright Bruce Morgan 2010. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission. All photos used herein are courtesy of Will Maguire.)
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Many Thanks to Bruce for sharing this great rescue story which highlights the importance of paying attention to one's instincts, not to mention the vast lifesaving resources that our Department has to protect the public. For those readers who do not know Bruce, he was a LACo Recurrent for over 30 years and retired several years ago due to personal health issues. Otherwise, he would most certainly still be putting in more than his fair share of days at the beach. Always a beach lifeguard first, Bruce put in over 10,000 days at the beach. In tribute to his years of service, Bruce was awarded the "Bronze Savage" by LACOLA in Sept. 2008 at the Annual Meeting that fall in Venice, Calif. on the boardwalk.
(L2R: Art Verge, O.L.; Capt. Pat Jone, O.L.S; and Bruce Morgan, O.L., Ret.;
On the Evening of Bruce being awarded the coveted "Bronze Savage" Award by LACOLA for his many years of distinguished service, Sept. 2008.)
Until next time.....
"County Recurrent" News
Service • Training • Commitment
*** Keeping the County Recurrent "in the loop"..... whether he/she likes it or NOT ! ***
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