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Aquatic Safety in California State Parks. Alex Peabody Aquatic Safety Specialist Public Safety Division. Lifeguarding History. Since humans began to explore the oceans, lives have been lost at sea. Lifeguards on beaches in California began in the late 1930’s.

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Aquatic safety in california state parks l.jpg

Aquatic Safety in California State Parks

Alex Peabody

Aquatic Safety Specialist

Public Safety Division


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Lifeguarding History

  • Since humans began to explore the oceans, lives have been lost at sea.


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Lifeguards on beaches in California began in the late 1930’s

  • The influx of swimmers into the surf-zone in Southern California lead to large scale drownings:

  • Early 1900’s Newport Beach, 18 drowned in one weekend early 1900’s

  • 1918 - San Diego 13 people drowned in one day

  • 1938: Doheny, San Clemente State Beaches have lifeguard services provided by county of Orange.


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California municipalities developed lifeguard services 1930’s

  • Numerous beaches had “swim lines” or “lifelines” which were ropes attached to shore that waders clung to. However, lifelines proved inadequate because struggling swimmers were not always able to hold onto them.


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Municipalities assigned police officers, or asked volunteers to perform water rescues.

  • Early lifeguard rescue tools included: row boats (dory boats), paddle boards, and throw-lines.

  • Swimming rescues were considered a last resort by these pioneer lifeguards. Duke

  • Kahanamoku became a national hero when he used his surfboard to rescue 12 men from a capsized boat in high surf off Newport, Ca.

.


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1950 – Development of the State Lifeguard Service to perform water rescues.

  • 1950: Robert Isenor, a former Newport City Lifeguard is hired as a seasonal employee to develop the first State Lifeguard program at Huntington State Beach.

  • He hired 17 seasonal lifeguards, who worked out of ten towers with no phones or radios and were supported by one jeep. State Lifeguards performed 27 swimmer rescues that first summer. Beach attendance was 211,000 that year.


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1953 – Huntington State Beach to perform water rescues.

  • 1953: Robert Isenor is appointed in first full-time lifeguard classification as District Lifeguard Supervisor with a starting pay of $341 per month.

  • The Boy Scout National Jamboree brings 14,000 scouts to Huntington State Beach and Isenor’s crew is acknowledged in Life Magazine for their outstanding safety record during this event (no drownings).


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1962 – Formalized Lifeguard Training begins: to perform water rescues.

  • 1962: Lifeguard testing and training is formalized to include 1000 yard swim, 600 yard run-swim-run and 20 hours of in-service first aid and rescue instruction. Training is held at each park unit.


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1964 – First Surfwatch Rescue Boat is launched: to perform water rescues.

  • 1964: Lifeguard Rescue Boat “Surfwatch” launched & makes dramatic mass rescue of 36 victims from one rip current at Huntington State Beach.

  • Second Rescue Boat, “Sea Ranger” is launched at Salton Sea: lifeguards provide six months of service at Salton Sea.


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1974 – California State Parks becomes the first agency in the nation to have armed peace officer lifeguards

  • 1974: Isenor pushes to have the Permanent Lifeguard series included in the peace officer training and California State Parks becomes the first agency in the nation to have armed lifeguards with full peace officer powers.


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The legacy of Robert Isenor the nation to have armed peace officer lifeguards

  • Robert Isenor continued directing lifeguard services for 33 years, retiring in 1983.


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Facts and Figures about our Aquatic Recreation Resources the nation to have armed peace officer lifeguards

  • Of the 278 California State Park Units

    155 (over half) have an aquatic recreation component

  • Miles of ocean coastline within California State Parks: approx. 300 miles

  • Miles of reservoir/lake shoreline: 625 miles


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Visitor Survey Information the nation to have armed peace officer lifeguards

  • Over 50 million people visit California State Parks each year.

  • #1 Reason given for visiting a State Park?

    WATER!!



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With… “outstanding [Aquatic] recreation opportunities…” comes RISK.

  • Drowning is the number one cause of death in the State Park System

    Year: Drownings: Other Fatalities:

    • 1998……………………15…………………….4

    • 1999……………………18…………………….8

    • 2000……………………14……………………11

    • 2001……………………17……………………17

    • 2002……………………22……………………16

    • 2003……………………25……………………23

    • 2004……………………31……………………23


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2005 Drownings: opportunities…” comes RISK.

24 Drowning Deaths


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Unintentional Fatalities 2004-2005 (sub-categories): opportunities…” comes RISK.Drowning remains the primary cause of Unintentional Death in the California State Park System.


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Unintentional Fatalities 2005 (% of sub-categories): opportunities…” comes RISK.Drowning deaths represent the highest percentage of all unintentional fatalities.


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Drownings by District: opportunities…” comes RISK.

Angeles 1 

Central Valley  2 

Channel Coast  1 

Gold Fields  3 

Inland Empire   2 

Mendocino  1 

North Bay   7 

North Coast Redwoods 1 

Orange Coast   1 

San Diego 1 

Santa Cruz  2 

San Luis Obispo Coast 1 

Sierra District 1

TOTAL: 24

Drownings by Activity: 

Boating Related………..2 

Diving……………………4 

Climbing/Walking

on rocks/beach………...0

Fishing…………………..1 

Rescue Attempt………..0 

Surfing…………………..3 

Swimming / Wading…………………11 

Unknown………………..3 

Total:…………………..24

2005 Drowning Analysis


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Guarded Water Drownings……0 opportunities…” comes RISK.

Unguarded Water Drownings…...24

Salt Water……15

Fresh Water…. 9

2005 Drowning Analysis


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Drownings by Month in 2005 opportunities…” comes RISK.

  • January………………………………..0

  • February………………………………1

  • March…………………………………1

  • April…………………………………..1

  • May…………………………………...3

  • June…………………………………...4

  • July……………………………………5

  • August………………………………...3

  • September…………………………….1

  • October……………………………….2

  • November…………………………….2

  • December…………………………….1

  • Total: 24


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Most Drownings in opportunities…” comes RISK.California State Parks occurin Unguarded Water


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Drowning to Rescue Ratio opportunities…” comes RISK.-United States Lifesaving Association Statistics-

  • 1960’s – Drowning to Rescue Ratio was one drowning for every 2,004 rescues at beaches with on-duty lifeguards.

  • 1990’s – Drowning to Rescue Ratio was improved to one drowning for every 4,832 rescues at lifeguarded beaches.


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What’s the Risk? opportunities…” comes RISK.

  • The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that approximately 60% - 80% of beaches in the U.S. are unguarded.

  • The USLA has estimated that the chances of drowning at a beach that is protected by lifeguards to be less than one in 18 million.


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National Center for Health Statistics & C.D.C. (’00-’01) opportunities…” comes RISK.

  • About 4,000 people die from drowning in the United States each year.

  • Males account for over 75% of all drownings each year.


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Drowning and Children opportunities…” comes RISK.

  • About 60% of drowning deaths among children occur in swimming pools.

  • Second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14 years (2000).


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National Center for Health Statistics & C.D.C. (’00 – ’01)

  • Approximately 50% - 75% of all drownings occur in open water.

  • Alcohol use is involved in about 25% to 50% of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation.


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What is the $ Cost $ of a Drowning Death? ’01)

  • In 1997 the National Safety Council placed the economic value of each unintentional injury death at $790,000

  • Estimated Drowning costs in 1997 based on USLA statistics:$273,420,000

  • Based on the USLA drowning numbers, estimated drowning costs from 1960–2001:

    $4.2 billion!


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What is the Impact of a Drowning? ’01)The story behind the photograph: Early 1950’s, a mother turns away from Los Angeles City Lifeguard Chief Myron F Cox, who makes an imploring gesture to her. Cox Stands in front of the body of her 6-year old daughter, whom he had just recovered from the Hansen Dam Reservoir. Minutes later, the body of her son, age 9, was found in the water. The children disappeared while on a family picnic. Los Angeles Times photograph


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Current numbers of California State Lifeguards: ’01)

  • Approximately 600+ Seasonal Lifeguards are hired at the peak of summer season

  • 70 Permanent Lifeguards and Lifeguard Supervisors


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Aquatic Rescues in California State Parks ’01)

Year # of Rescues

1998……………………………6,294

1999……………………………5,918

2000……………………………7,835

2001……………………………7,372

2002……………………………6,700

2003………...…………………10,539

2004….…………..……………10,016

2005……………………….……5,827


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How does California State Parks Mitigate the Drowning Risk? ’01)

  • Signage: posting warnings at beach and park entrances & access points

  • Interpretation & Education:

    • pamphlets, panels, media programs

    • News releases, high surf/water warnings

    • Educational programs (Junior Lifeguards, Jr. Rangers, tide pool walks


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Mitigating the Drowning Risk ’01)-Through Planning-

  • State Budget (BCP) process

  • General Plan development

  • Input on beach and campground access development

  • Developing intra & inter-agency Aquatic Emergency Plans


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Mitigating the Drowning Risk ’01)

Through Staffing & Equipment:

  • Seasonal Lifeguard Program

  • Permanent Lifeguard Program

  • Dive Teams

  • Tower coverage

  • Vehicle patrol

  • Rescue Boat

  • Personal Watercraft


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Mitigating the Drowning Risk ’01)-Staffing & Equipment-

How many? How much?The Surf Watch rescue boat deploys a lifeguard off Huntington State Beach


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Mitigating the Drowning Risk ’01)-Staffing & Equipment-

What type of equipment?State Lifeguards rescue a young woman Photo courtesy of the Monterey Herald off Carmel Beach using a personal watercraft.


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Consistent enforcement of alcohol closures and minors with alcohol

Alcohol use is involved in about 25% to 50% of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation.

Consistent enforcement of: Applicable laws,

including Ca. Harbors

& Navigation codes

Mitigating the Drowning Risk-Law Enforcement-


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Mitigating the Drowning Risk alcohol-Public Safety Awareness & Education-

  • Develop public awareness of Aquatic Safety through education and interpretation.

    • Learn how to swim!

    • Participate in a Junior Lifeguard Program near you!

  • Educate the public in safe aquatic recreation practices and how to PREVENT drowning and injury while on or in the water.

    • Swim at a beach where lifeguards are on duty!

    • Safe boating when on the water.

  • Know what to do and what NOT to do in the event of an Aquatic Emergency.


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You do alcoholNOT have to be a LIFEGUARD to save a person’s life

  • Understand the issues involved in Aquatic Safety.

  • Understand your role in the prevention of drowning.

  • EVERYONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


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