Jon Edelbrock | Community Services Director and Chief Lifeguard
Managing almost three million visitors per year over a two-mile stretch of beach has its challenges. In the middle of much of the action and energetic visitors our small lifeguard team works daily, year-round, to manage beach access and maintain a safe environment. To be effective, our team strategy is to hire and train excellent staff, to commit to teamwork, and to educate the public.
Not surprisingly, we look for and comprise our team of individuals with similar skills – effective watermen and women, who are courteous, and have a willingness to serve. From day one, the focus for each employee is to become an excellent and valued team resource who recognizes each other member’s unique value and contributions. Our operational plan and procedures are shared by the entire team. The focus is always on being proactive and preventive to minimize risk. As a group, we have to know that we have the same level of knowledge, trust, and common interests.
Our core service is water surveillance, daily, from open to close. This includes dedicated observation of visitors and the environment from open lifeguard towers, vehicles, and boats. Lifeguards use multiple tactics and strategies to identify potential issues and challenges. Visitor observation starts with understanding a level of comfort in the ocean by viewing age, size, complexion, swim stroke, and other mannerisms that may indicate discomfort. We continually survey the ever-changing ocean conditions and trends, day-to-day, as they change with waves, tides, wind, and always try predict hotspots that may pose a challenge. Effective and efficient scanning techniques are required for any lifeguard. Following patterns like left to right, front to back, or working at watching particular groupings and counting patrons in those areas, are common tactics. To increase effectiveness, staff continually overlaps viewing of coverage areas and cross-check with other staff when in doubt of a situation or conditions pose a viewing challenge.
In addition, public outreach and communication have historically been a cornerstone of our department. The goal is to most effectively present the information each beachgoer needs to enjoy their beach experience. Our version of marketing our beach rules, safety information, and best practices for the beach area, consists of public appearances, media outreach, up to date signage and our flag system, providing daily surf and weather reports, and face-to-face education. With each season and day, we are continuously working to be ready for the current and future challenges and most effectively provide information to the public.
Our goal and mission are to effectively manage safe public space for all. Our well-trained staff works daily to maintain this focus through a team-oriented and educational approach with the goal of providing the best possible service to the community.