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Team Terrific
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street

 

Adam Chase, Del Mar Park Ranger; Liza Rogers, Administrative Assistant; Pat Vergne, Community Services Director and Chief Lifeguard. Photo Nancy Fisher.
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1972. Back Row (left to right): Eric Sandy, Vern Rye, Bob Mauer, Grant Larson, Joyce Hoffman, Jack Ross. Front Row: Bill McConachie, Jim Lischer, Captain Gardner Stevens, Dan Jago, Brad Smith.  Photo courtesy of the Del Mar Lifeguards.
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Eric Sandy has been with Lifeguard Services since 1972, when he was hired by lifeguard legend Gardner Stevens. Two years out of the Navy, he was studying at San Diego State when his roommate asked him if he’d like a part-time job. “Not unless I get paid to go to the beach,” he replied. “I was kidding”, he adds, “but my roommate wasn’t!”

Eric’s title? He can’t remember for sure, but thinks it was something like Animal Regulation Officer. “It should have been Roving Ambassador,” he explains, “because we all just did what had to be done. There wasn’t much to do in the winter, and we knew all the dogs in town, so if one got lost we’d drive it home in the lifeguard jeep.” His current title is Community Services Parking Lieutenant, and he heads a crew of two permanent and up to twelve part-time employees who oversee all aspects of parking enforcement in Del Mar. His favorite part of the job is working with such a high-caliber crew. “It’s extremely stimulating to work with these people, and,” he adds, “I’m not counting widgets every day!”

Administrative Assistant Liza Rogers (pronounced Lisa), who’s been with the department for six years, had been a lifeguard for both the City of San Diego and San Clemente State Beach, and had also spent time as an insurance agent. Oddly, this turned out to be the perfect background for her current job of ensuring that all events held at the beaches, parks, and city facilities are properly permitted and insured. In addition to that paperwork, she handles all booking, bids on repairs, requisitions, and ordering of supplies and furniture for city facilities. When asked how she feels about her job, she answered “are you kidding? I love this job! Pat Vergne is the greatest. He’s not a micro-manager, he trusts his staff to do the right thing – plus I get to surf!” She’s extremely proud that her son, also with the department, was last year’s Lifeguard of the Year.

Pat Vergne, in turn, is very proud of his staff. As the Community Services Director and Chief Lifeguard of 15 years, Pat’s strategy is to “hire good people, let them do what they do best, and manage chaos. I’m very proud that my crew is the best of the best.”

Also hired by Gardner Stevens, 33 years ago, Pat began as a lifeguard and now manages a crew of up to 75 full and part-time employees when the work load triples in the summer months. Although he swam and played water polo in high school, he didn’t set out to follow this path. “It wasn’t until several years into it that I realized my job had become a career and it’s been fun every day.”

Having seen it all, Pat and Eric agree that their most memorable rescue was on a Valentine’s Day several years ago when a hot-air balloon, carrying a party of eleven elegantly dressed guests, was blown about a mile offshore and dropped into the ocean. With the help of rescue boats, and the cooperation of Solana Beach, the Sheriff’s Department, the Fire Department and the Coast Guard, all were saved – including the balloon, its basket, and a few bottles of unopened champagne with which they celebrated!

 

 

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