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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

Aquatic Safety in California State Parks

Alex Peabody

Aquatic Safety Specialist

Public Safety Division

lifeguarding history
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
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.
california municipalities developed lifeguard services
California municipalities developed lifeguard services
  • 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.
municipalities assigned police officers or asked volunteers to perform water rescues
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.

.

1950 development of the state lifeguard service
1950 – Development of the State Lifeguard Service
  • 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.
1953 huntington state beach
1953 – Huntington State Beach
  • 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).
1962 formalized lifeguard training begins
1962 – Formalized Lifeguard Training begins:
  • 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.
1964 first surfwatch rescue boat is launched
1964 – First Surfwatch Rescue Boat is launched:
  • 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.
slide10
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.
the legacy of robert isenor
The legacy of Robert Isenor
  • Robert Isenor continued directing lifeguard services for 33 years, retiring in 1983.
facts and figures about our aquatic recreation resources
Facts and Figures about our Aquatic Recreation Resources
  • 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
visitor survey information
Visitor Survey Information
  • Over 50 million people visit California State Parks each year.
  • #1 Reason given for visiting a State Park?

WATER!!

with outstanding aquatic recreation opportunities comes risk
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
2005 drownings
2005 Drownings:

24 Drowning Deaths

slide17

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

slide18
Unintentional Fatalities 2005 (% of sub-categories):Drowning deaths represent the highest percentage of all unintentional fatalities.
2005 drowning analysis
Drownings by District:

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
2005 drowning analysis20
Guarded Water Drownings……0

Unguarded Water Drownings…...24

Salt Water……15

Fresh Water…. 9

2005 Drowning Analysis
drownings by month in 2005
Drownings by Month in 2005
  • 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
drowning to rescue ratio united states lifesaving association statistics
Drowning to Rescue Ratio-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.
what s the risk
What’s the 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.
national center for health statistics c d c 00 01
National Center for Health Statistics & C.D.C. (’00-’01)
  • About 4,000 people die from drowning in the United States each year.
  • Males account for over 75% of all drownings each year.
drowning and children
Drowning and Children
  • About 60% of drowning deaths among children occur in swimming pools.
  • Second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14 years (2000).
national center for health statistics c d c 00 0127
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.
what is the cost of a drowning death
What is the $ Cost $ of a Drowning Death?
  • 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!

slide29

What is the Impact of a Drowning?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

current numbers of california state lifeguards
Current numbers of California State Lifeguards:
  • Approximately 600+ Seasonal Lifeguards are hired at the peak of summer season
  • 70 Permanent Lifeguards and Lifeguard Supervisors
aquatic rescues in california state parks
Aquatic Rescues in California State Parks

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

how does california state parks mitigate the drowning risk
How does California State Parks Mitigate the Drowning Risk?
  • 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
mitigating the drowning risk through planning
Mitigating the Drowning Risk-Through Planning-
  • State Budget (BCP) process
  • General Plan development
  • Input on beach and campground access development
  • Developing intra & inter-agency Aquatic Emergency Plans
mitigating the drowning risk
Mitigating the Drowning Risk

Through Staffing & Equipment:

  • Seasonal Lifeguard Program
  • Permanent Lifeguard Program
  • Dive Teams
  • Tower coverage
  • Vehicle patrol
  • Rescue Boat
  • Personal Watercraft
mitigating the drowning risk staffing equipment
Mitigating the Drowning Risk-Staffing & Equipment-

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

mitigating the drowning risk staffing equipment36
Mitigating the Drowning Risk-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.

mitigating the drowning risk law enforcement
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-
mitigating the drowning risk public safety awareness education
Mitigating the Drowning Risk-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.
you do not have to be a lifeguard to save a person s life
You do NOT 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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