1993 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
1993 Medal of Valor Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Michael Patterson
Around 7:00 PM on May 19th, three civilians reported a man in the water ½ mile off Point Fermin. Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Mike Patterson sent lifeguard Jim Boulgarides with a radio to the lookout on the cliff in hopes of confirming the call and spotting the victim.
Mike then put on a wetsuit and shoes and ran with a lifeguard rescue can and a portable radio around the rocky point. Fighting jagged rocks and heavy surf, he makes radio contact with Jim, lined up the victim and swam through 60-degree water and masses of kelp. He found a fully dressed man obviously suffering from hypothermia.
Mike swam the victim back to shore through darkness, kelp, rock, and surf. He successfully got the man back to the Cabrillo Beach Lifeguard Headquarters where paramedics treated the man for severs hypothermia.
Ocean Lifeguard Robert Bartlet
In February 1993, Bob Bartlett went for a day sail with his best friend, 63 year old Marlan Weech. After sailing for about three and a half hours they were about 5 miles from the harbor when they decided to head for home.
During a port tack maneuver, a bumper slipped over the side and Marlan went to pull it back onboard. As he did so, a swell hit the 42’ sailboat and pitched him over the side.
With years of training and knowledge, Bartlett started the engine, dropped the sails, and brought the boat around. He threw the buoy to Marlan and on the third pass Marlan was able to grab the buoy. Bob began to pull him toward the boat and was talking to him when Marlan went face down in the water.
Bob immediately killed the engine, raced to the front of the boat, threw an anchor, took off his jacket and shoes, and dove into the ocean clutching the safety line. Marlan was just out of reach of the safety line. Bob let go of the line and swam to him only to find him to be pulseless and non-breathing. Bob attempted CPR and then looked up to see the sail caught on the rail and filing with wind. The boat was moving away from them. Bob swam after the boat but it was moving faster than he could swim. He swam back to his friend, grabbed him and tried to pull him toward shore. As By now, it was beginning to get dark. A fishing boat passed within 500 yards, but no one heard his cries for help.
Bob tried to pull him, the swells started to go over his head.
He stopped, looked at him and put his finger to his artery and confirmed he had no pulse. At this point Bob made the toughest decision of his life, as he knew he had to let his friend go or they both would perish. He set him free, said a few words, and began to swim for shore.
After two hours of rain, darkness, and what seemed like no progress, he thought of giving up. However, at that point he began to focus on his wife daughter and his great desire to see them again.
After five and a half hours in the water he found himself within 100 of the San Pedro Lighthouse. A sailor on a container ship spotted him by chance. They notified the Coast Guard and moments later a Loa Angeles Harbor pilot tug arrived, searching in the black for Bartlett in the 8-foot swells. He was taken to the hospital where no core body could be found. He had lost twenty pounds during the ordeal and only the efforts of two nurses who specialized in hypothermia saved his life.
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Bob Ingersol
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Alfred Laws
In June, Alfred Laws and Bob Ingersoll responded to a call from beach patrons that a catamaran had capsized off Malibu. From Zuma Beach, they trailered an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) to Topanga Canyon Beach and launched the craft in 40-50 MPH winds, unseasonably cold water (56 degrees) and huge waves and seas.
In spite of the confusion about the accuracy of the original report, Alfred and Bob headed in what the guessed was the general location of the capsized catamaran.
Meanwhile, four miles offshore two men failed repeatedly to right the craft. Fearing they would not survive the night due to the conditions, they decided to swim for shore.
Alfred and Bob were having engine trouble by continued to make their way forward the men. Ultimately, radio contact was made with a lifeguard beach unit. Unit #021 spotted the boat and guided Alfred and Bob toward the victims. The two men in the water were located and taken aboard the IRB. The craft could not make headway in the wind and seas. Twenty minutes later, lifeguard rescue boat Baywatch arrived, took everyone onboard, and made it back to Topanga Beach where the lifeguards to the men to the beach and treated them for hypothermia. Only the skills and bravery of Alfred Laws and Bob Ingersol saved the lives of these two men.
In the words of the rescue boaters themselves, “There is no doubt in our mind that the total effort of these men save our lives and we are sure that anything less would have resulted in a serious catastrophe”
1993 Lifetime Achievment Honoree
Lifeguard Chief Bud Stevenson
In 1993, Bud Stevenson became the second recipient of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard “Lifetime Achievement Award. Bud is considered by most Los Angeles County Lifeguards and beach community residents as a legend. He is credited with developing and perfecting programs and techniques which modernized and improved the ocean lifesaving profession.
During World War II, Bud served in the merchant marines. Bud became a Captain with the Los Angeles County Lifeguards in 1948. In 1949 Bud donated a “bell” from the ship he served on during the war to be used as a perpetual trophy for the “Taplin Relay”. Bud felt the Taplin could help showcase the extraordinary water skills of the beach lifeguards and help improve the image of the lifeguards. Bud was always focused on improving the image of the lifeguards. The pre war images of lifeguards, perpetuated by Hollywood, were tough to overcome, and the professionalism of ocean lifesaving became an important concern to management as the “beach boy” image of the past was to be strictly avoided. Bud led the way in bringing lifeguarding standards and image to its present day status by developing rigorous, standardized, and comprehensive training programs.
In 1956, following an invitation from the Australian Surf Lifesaving Association, Bud led a team of Los Angeles County lifeguards representing the United States to the first International Surf Life Saving Competition, held in conjunction with the Melbourne Olympics. This singular event is recognized as the most influential surf lifesaving event ever held. The international surf lifesaving community was introduced to the rescue can, lightweight paddleboards, fiberglass surfboards, relays and ironman competitions, as well as to the overall capabilities of the modern, well trained, professional lifeguard. This international forum continues today, providing a constant exchange of information, equipment, and skills.
Bud was promoted to Chief Lifeguard in 1957. In the 1960’s, Chief Stevenson’s continued leadership of the Los Angeles County lifeguards brought further gains to the profession. There was tremendous support for the County lifeguards as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved parity with the Fire and Sheriff’s Department for lifeguards in salary and benefits, Lifeguards were also able to attain Safety Series retirement.
On May 1, 1969, the Board of Supervisors formed the Department of Beaches in order to better serve the public, and to address the unique needs of the County’s valuable coastal resources. Bud Stevenson was appointed the first Assistant Director of the Department to help lead the lifeguards into the future.