Fitness is key for OC Beach Patrol lifeguards | On guard
(Jun 24, 2022) Have you ever been on the beach when the lifeguard drags his stand?
It’s quite a sight to behold if you’re the average beach shopper.
They drag it to shore in the morning and bring it back to the dunes in the evening and sometimes during the day depending on the tide.
The aid stations weigh 300 pounds and part of the ranger’s daily routine is hanging out on the beach.
It’s so critical; it is one of eight components of our pre-employment physical skills assessment, in addition to running and swimming skills.
They also carry their big red bag full of daily necessities to support themselves and get the job done in all weathers.
No one knows how much the bags weigh; it depends on the day and the individual rescuer and their particular needs.
You may have noticed that Surf Rescue Technicians stay on duty regardless of the weather.
The next time you see a lifeguard come or go to work, write down everything the lifeguards do to set up their “office” each day.
It takes a certain level of fitness to set up and finish each day. (Note: too often a surf rescue tech comes to work only to find that their “desk” (stand) is damaged or missing. If you see someone attempting to damage or throw a stand in the ocean, please call 911.)
OCBP currently employs over 200 people. Surf Rescue Technician (SRT) is the title our lifeguards get once they complete Surf Rescue Academy, and you see them wearing their red uniforms and holding the big and very heavy white lifeguard stand.
Each SRT is a member of one of 18 crews that stretch from the entrance pier to the Delaware state line.
Each crew operates as a team and has five or six lifeguard stations, with the team leader station centrally located with a two-way radio as a communication link to the city’s 911 communications center.
In addition to the team leader, there is an assistant team leader and up to six additional SRTs who work together to cover all team pits from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. as well as days off, lunch breaks and mandatory training.
Yes, mandatory training during their working day.
Not only do they have to meet certain physical requirements to be hired as SRTs and requalified each summer season with the Patrol, but they also have to complete a prescribed daily workout of at least 20 minutes a day during their guard shifts.
Our SRTs are no different than a professional athlete we have hired for their physical attributes and trained them in techniques that allow them to use those special skills and abilities to protect you during your visit.
To ensure training coverage, some SRTs are scheduled for a 4.5 hour shift.
During this shift, the SRT begins his working day at 10:00 a.m. They start by making sure that the entire area of the beach covered by their crew is prepared for the day.
Once set up and administrative duties are complete, they begin to relieve each SRT of the crew who are on a 7.5 hour shift.
Once each SRT is relieved, they must perform an Ordinance Check (local rules and laws) on their beach by walking (jogging) among beach patrons checking for unsafe conditions and violations, followed by mandatory training prescribed by the team leader.
Workouts usually consist of swimming, running, or both. They can change daily at the discretion of the team leader who manages the workouts in a certain area.
If it is extremely hot, it will probably be a water training day, but on a day with strong winds and moderate temperatures, there are all kinds of various training activities that the team leader will design.
Once all crew members have completed their morning duties and practiced, the “lunch rover” (the SRT on the 4.5 hour shift) will replace each SRT who is working all day for a 30-minute lunch break starting at noon.
Being in top physical condition is not only essential for doing the day-to-day job of guarding, but it also helps prevent sports-type injuries and comes in handy for competitions.
Some members of the patrol participate in competitions held in the region and in other parts of the country for lifeguards.
Each year, we send a team of OCBP female guards to women’s competitions, and we also send a competition team made up of both men and women to compete in United States Lifeguard Association regional competitions.
Additionally, we participate in the Lifeguard Olympics which are usually held in Rehoboth Beach each year.
Teams are selected through tryouts that take place before or after work on SRTs personal time, to represent OCBP and all who compete are scheduled and do not receive any compensation or support from city funds. ‘Ocean City although many of our teams receive support from local businesses.
All these competitions are an opportunity for lifeguards from all over the region to show off their physical condition. Top Ocean City Beach Patrol athletes will also represent Ocean City nationally and internationally and are highly respected in the lifeguard community.
So when you see the guards doing weird maneuvers on the beach, you now know they’re probably doing some mandatory practice designed by their team leader or training for an upcoming competition…or the of them !
But rest assured, even if they’re on a break and training, another guard has them covered so the 10 miles of Ocean City is fully guarded.
However, during their training, they must remain within the area covered by their crew. In the event of an emergency, they are therefore available to help and provide additional support to the crew.
If you are interested in becoming a lifeguard, you might be interested to know that due to the unique requirements of the job, Ocean City Beach Patrol does not require or recognize certification or experience with other agencies.
Anyone seeking employment with OCBP must pass all aspects of an eight-phase pre-employment physical skills assessment.
Testing for OCBP to work next summer (2023) will be offered this summer in Ocean City, starting Saturday, August 13, and at offsite locations this winter.
Once a candidate has passed the physical abilities test, he is appointed to a 65-hour position, paid $18.44/hr. Surf Rescue Academy.
Before the start of the academy and each year they return to patrol, they must pass a mandatory drug test. During the Surf Rescue Training Academy, each recruit is trained and evaluated in all necessary beach patrol skills, techniques, procedures and protocols.
Help us spread the message. If lifeguards are not on duty, it is not safe to swim. Remember to always keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard is at the helm!
We stay in good physical shape to protect you, but we can only do this if you swim while we are on duty.