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1990 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees



1990 Medal of Valor Honoree


Ocean Lifegaurd Specialist Ken Atkins

The call came in at 3:15 pm on December 3, 1989……. “car over the cliff on the east side of White Point.”


Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Kenny Atkins and his partner, Dana Harty, sped to the site. The Lifeguard crew arrived to find a van down on the rocky beach, its driver inside and a passenger still clinging to the treacherous hillside about 50 feet above the water.


Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics joined Atkins, a skilled cliff rescuer, in the decent down the 125-foot escarpment. Arriving at the victim who was clinging to the cliff, Atkins determined that he was alive and began lifesaving techniques, which were to save the life of the 40-year-old man. Meanwhile, the Fire Department team proceeded to the van, where the driver was found dead.


Atkins first stabilized the victim’s position on the hillside, securing him to a railing at the top with a Sky Genie, a lifesaving device. Then he went to work on the man’s multiple injuries, stabilizing him before the tricky job of removing him to an awaiting ambulance.


All the while, Atkins struggled to keep his balance on the slippery hillside and to assure that the victim was not jostled from his precarious perch. He applied the necessary first aid, a cervical collar and placed the victim on a stretcher winched down from above.


The man was taken to Harbor General Hospital and survived the ordeal thanks to the heroic actions of Atkins.

1990 Distinguished Service Honoree


Ocean Lifeguard Dave Nilson

When summer arrived early this year, crowds packed Los Angeles County’s beaches on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Every available Ocean Lifeguard was called to duty.


David Nilson worked the tower at Manhattan Beach Pier and, like most lifeguards that day, was facing tough duty. The surf was rough and there were plenty of rip currents. However, for Nilson, it was going to be a bigger day than even he expected.


By days end, Nilson had been in the water 43 times, to pull victims from the ocean. It was a near record for rescues and for his performance, Nilson was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.



1990 Nilson
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