By Ed Harris
Our San Diego lifeguards have had one heck of a summer thus far. As massive numbers of beach and ocean goers visit this beautiful coastline, the San Diego Lifeguard Service, a division of the San-Diego Fire Rescue Department, has responded to numerous emergencies, including thousands of water rescues and hundreds of medical aids. Our guards provide a wide array safety services across 17 miles of San Diego’s coastline, as Millions of members of the public visit San Diego beaches every year–and this year has been one of the busiest that I can remember.
Every station, from Ocean Beach to Torrey Pines, has done an incredible job keeping beach patrons safe.
As lifeguards, our peak season begins in June, when hundreds of seasonal lifeguards join our year-round guards in staffing our oceanfront stations. Due to the large surf and consistent swell brought about by this year’s El Nino, the sand has shifted drastically. With the combination of shifting sand and constant south swell this summer, rip currents have been extremely strong. These rip currents have continuously pulled throughout the Mission Beach strand for most of the summer, and lifeguards at Mission Beach have been very busy. In July, Mission Beach made 1569 rescues alone.
In addition to the numerous rip-currents along the Mission strand, many pocket beaches have been hosting unprecedented crowds, which have resulted in a number of critical rescues. As crowds grow at popular beaches, many smaller pocket-beaches in La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs are experiencing extremely high rescue counts. These beaches, which are rockier and have bigger surf, have become more popular in recent months. Recently, Sunset Cliffs guards made a Lifesaving CPR rescue of a surfer at Pappy’s Point, as well as a number of critical rescues and medical aids. The La Jolla Rocks Lifeguards, who are generally accustomed to a lesser quantity of rescues, due to the hazardous nature of the region, have not had a typical summer. In the month of July, over 227,000 beach patrons visited Windansea beach. The Windansea Lifeguard staff, which is comprised of only five lifeguards, made 602 rescues in the month of July. In the beginning of August, the Windansea guards made nearly 100 rescues in one day. I am very proud of all of my rock guards, who make dangerous and critical rescues on a daily basis. The terrain is unique from Windansea to La Jolla Cove, and rescues are never routine. Summer is not over, and we all still have our work cut out for us up in La Jolla.
The hard work that our seasonal lifeguards put in every day deserves a lot of credit, and I am proud to work with them.
Ed Harris is a San Diego Lifeguard Sergeant, a Marine veteran, and former Council Member representing the 2nd District.