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A lifeguard's job is not all sun and fun [Letter]

Swimming

Regarding Bernard Haske's recent letter ("'Rescue technicians,' aka 'lifeguards.'" June 7), the official name for lifeguards on the beach patrol in Ocean City actually is "surf rescue technicians," or SRTs.

Moreover, those who work on the rotating surfing beach really are called "surf beach facilitators," or SBFs.

My son is in his sixth year as a member of the OC Beach Patrol. He doesn't really care what beachgoers call him as long as they obey his instructions and understand that he is there for their protection.

Check in with your guards when you get to the beach, and they can let you know if they are watching any areas that are prone to rip currents. They are trained to know what rip currents look like and where they are, and to keep swimmers away from them if possible.

Sometimes rip currents come up suddenly and quickly disappear. So if your guard whistles at you while you're in the water and motions you to move in one direction or another, do it right away. They may be seeing something from the height of their stand that you as a swimmer cannot see from water level.

Many people don't realize that the guards are not just on those stands getting a tan, looking good and enjoying a day in the sun. Their job is challenging and can be very difficult. They are responsible for hundreds of people both in the water and on the beach.

Not only do they rescue people in distress from the water, they are also trained to render first aid in case of a medical emergency on the beach, to assist when there is a lost child, provide information on marine life, weather and water conditions and be ambassadors for the town of Ocean City.

They are the one group that most visitors will come into contact with on a daily basis while they are vacationing. The responsibility on their shoulders is tremendous and they take their jobs very seriously. That is apparent in their history of going almost 10 years with no loss of life on their watch.

The recent drowning of a swimmer at the beach was tragic, and believe me when I say that it affected each and every member of the OCBP. Although they were able to save two of the swimmers, the memory of the one who was lost that day will stay with them all for a long time to come.

Wendy Sevier, Parkton

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