International Surf Festival a 501(c)(4) Non Profit Corporation

2008 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees

 

 

2008 Medal of Valor Honorees

 

Ocean Lifegaurd Specialist Abby Baldaras

On November 20, 2007, Abby Balderas had left the Isthmus on Catalina Island, rented a car and while in uniform, headed to East Los Angeles for a training class at Los Angeles County Fire Department Headquarters.

 

While stopped at a stop sign, he heard loud sounds to his right.  Unbeknownst to Abby, undercover police officers were attempting to serve a warrant on a suspected drug dealer.  When the suspect pulled into his driveway, he spotted the undercover offices, backed out, and aimed his car toward the nearest officer, violently striking him.  The officer went down with critical injuries, including two broken femurs, broken ribs, a broken jaw, and head lacerations.

 

In spite of lots of yelling, speeding cars and men running around with guns drawn, Abby Balderas did what lifeguard do, he jumped out of his car and ran to the aid of a fallen man.  Abby immediately began to apply advanced care by clearing an airway, controlling the bleeding, and stabilizing the injuries in order to prevent further injury.

 

With one officer joining Abby and with the realization that their comrade was in good hands, the other police offers took off in pursuit of the suspect.

 

Abby was able to continue to stabilize the injuries, coordinate care with incoming units, assist with his treatments, and direct incoming ambulance and paramedic units.  After the officer was transported to the hospital, Abby stayed around for another 4 hours.  The suspect was apprehended and the officer is recovering from his injuries.

Ocean Lifeguard Joe Everett

On Sunday, July 23, 2007, Joe Everett joined a large number of boat expert and novice paddlers in the annual 10-mile Tom Zahn Memorial Paddleboard Race from Zuma to Malibu.  Worried about the abilities and navigating the waters far from shore, some of the competitors had asked Joe to keep an eye on them.  Joe is widely recognized as an expert waterman.

 

One of the stand-up paddlers had made it to Corral Beach and was approximately one and a quarter miles offshore.  It was at that point that a 12’ shark began to follow him and to nudge this board.  The shark had been “bullying” him for almost 10 minutes when the paddler saw Joe Everett and called for help.  Joe, hearing the call for help, immediately headed over to assist.  As he approached the panicked paddler, Joe noticed the large dorsal fin and saw the shark bumping the paddler’s board.

 

Without hesitation, Joe rammed his 18’ racing paddleboard into the shark and, literally, rode up on its back.  Noticing the body type and the teeth, there was no doubt that this shark was a great white.  Joe struck the shark about the head with is hands and continued to ram the shark for about two minutes.  When the shark charged the two men and submerged a few feet from them, all Joe could think of was that “he had really done it this time.”  Joe has a reputation for being there when something big happens.  Well, something big wasa happening and in his words, “He was really scaret.” He was so scared that he could not talk.

 

Although they were convinced that the shark was about to attack them from below, Joe and the paddler looked for an escape route.  They spotted a small fishing boat and headed for it.  Once there, Joe borrowed a radio to summon Baywatch Malibu.  With other lifeguards on the scene, he helped to formulate a plan to escort and account for the 50 paddlers at the end of the pack to the finish line.  He then simply finished the race where he received a very emotional thank you from the paddler the helped.

 

2008 Distinquished Service Honorees

 

Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Ameche

On May 24, 2008, Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Ameche decided to spend a day off surfing at Surfer’s Knoll, near the mouth to the Ventura River.  The surf was running from 4 to 6 feet and there were a number of deep holes and sandbars in the area.

 

Ryan had just caught a great wave and was in the process of paddling out when he heard a surfer calling for help.  The young surfer was on his back with his hands on his neck.  Ryan immediately raced over to the injured surfer.  The young man told Ryan that he had hit is head on the bottom, heard a crack in his neck, and was losing feeling in his arms and legs.  Ryan abandoned his board, released the leash on the victim’s board as well and used it like a backboard.  While supporting the young man’s head and neck, he treaded water through the incoming sets of pounding waves and brought him to shore while keeping him on his back and on the board.

 

Ryan summoned the aid of another surfer and explained in detail how to maintain a neutral, stable position for the victim’s head and thus prevent further injury.  Ryan then ran over ½ mile to his car where he grabbed his cell phone and called 911.  After placing the call, he ran back to assist with the patients care.  The paramedics were on the scene within 15 minutes and by the time they transported the surfer off the beach, he stated that he had begun to regain some feeling and movement in his arms and legs.

 

Due to his immediate response, his knowledge of how to deal with a neck injury, and his physical conditioning, Ryan saved the life of this young man and prevented any further damage to his neck and spine.

Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Berry

In September 2007, a young man in his early 30’s was attempting to swim the Catalina Channel.  John York, the founder of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation asked Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Berry to join him as part of the support crew for a novice swimmer.  John knew that Ryan had a desire to on day make the swim himself and that by being a part of the volunteer support crew on the support vessel, he might get a better idea of what the swim was like.

 

The young swimmer started off ok but after about 9 hours in the water, he was swimming slower and slower and was having a hard time swimming straight.  Since the ocean chop make it difficult to keep the escort boat close to the swimmer, Ryan and John decided to take half hour turns swimming with the young man, so that they would be close to him in case aid was needed.

 

About 5 miles from the mainland, John had just begun his turn when the swimmer went into sudden cardiac arrest.  Unbeknownst to John and Ryan, the young man’s core body temperature was too low.  John immediately grabbed the man to keep him from sinking and rolled him onto his back.  Ryan quickly swam to John’s aid and the two kept the pulse less, non-breathing man at the surface.  Ryan then swam over 50 yards back to the boat, grabbed a life ring and swam it back to the victim.  The boat crew then towed the group back to the boat.  The swimmer was then lifted on board and CPR was begun.  CPR was conducted for over 80 minutes.  The Baywatch rescue boat and then the Coast Guard arrive on the scene and took the victim to shore and the hospital.  Although everyone was convinced that the young swimmer would not survive, rescue measures continued.

 

Remarkably, due to the immediate rescue and implementation of advanced care by Ryan Berry and John York, the swimmer did survive and made a complete recovery.  

2008 Special Recognition Honoree

 

ISF Vice President John York

In September 2007, a young man in his early 30’s was attempting to swim the Catalina Channel.  John York, the founder of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation asked Ocean Lifeguard Ryan Berry to join him as part of the support crew for a novice swimmer.  John knew that Ryan had a desire to on day make the swim himself and that by being a part of the volunteer support crew on the support vessel, he might get a better idea of what the swim was like.

 

The young swimmer started off ok but after about 9 hours in the water, he was swimming slower and slower and was having a hard time swimming straight.  Since the ocean chop make it difficult to keep the escort boat close to the swimmer, Ryan and John decided to take half hour turns swimming with the young man, so that they would be close to him in case aid was needed.

 

About 5 miles from the mainland, John had just begun his turn when the swimmer went into sudden cardiac arrest.  Unbeknownst to John and Ryan, the young man’s core body temperature was too low.  John immediately grabbed the man to keep him from sinking and rolled him onto his back.  Ryan quickly swam to John’s aid and the two kept the pulse less, non-breathing man at the surface.  Ryan then swam over 50 yards back to the boat, grabbed a life ring and swam it back to the victim.  The boat crew then towed the group back to the boat.  The swimmer was then lifted on board and CPR was begun.  CPR was conducted for over 80 minutes.  The Baywatch rescue boat and then the Coast Guard arrive on the scene and took the victim to shore and the hospital.  Although everyone was convinced that the young swimmer would not survive, rescue measures continued.

 

Remarkably, due to the immediate rescue and implementation of advanced care by Ryan Berry and John York, the swimmer did survive and made a complete recovery.  

2008 Lifetime Achievment Honoree

 

Ocean Lifeguard John Olguin

John Olguin is the recipient of the 2008 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement award.  John Olguin was born in San Pedro in 1921 and has always been recognized as a natural leader.  During World War II, he served in New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan with the First Calvary Division and was awarded the Silver Star.  He returned after the war to San Pedro and the beach.

 

Before graduating from high school, he went to work as a beach lifeguard for the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks.  John worked almost his entire lifeguard career at Cabrillo Beach.  He served as a beach lifeguard for 26 years.  He is a waterman, it’s in his blood.  Five of his brothers have also been lifeguards.  He has been rowing a dory for 72-years, most of the time with his wife Muriel.  They have rowed from San Pedro to Catalina and back numerous times.  In 1949, he swam the Catalina Channel in order to escort a blind swimmer.  He swims in the ocean every day all year long to maintain his physical fitness and to remain connected to the ocean.

 

John started the Jr. Lifeguard Program at Cabrillo Beach.  He remained in contact with many of these Jr. Lifeguards and is very proud of their many accomplishments as citizen, professionals, and leaders in the community.  Many of his Jr. Lifeguards later became guards themselves and played important roles in the lifeguard family.

 

In 1949, John became the director of the Los Angeles Cabrillo Marine Museum and he remained in this position until he retired in 1963.  In this role, John created the Point Fermin Marine Refuge, he instituted the whale watching program, and he raised money to make sure every 6th grade student in the 17 schools in San Pedro could visit the museum and enjoy every experience it had to offer.

 

Over the years, John Olguin has participated in every possible philanthropic activity in the area.  He continued to work very closely with the lifeguards at Cabrillo beach and he was very helpful in easing the transition between the L.A. City and the Los Angeles County Lifeguards during the merger.  After the merger John became very active in the L.A. County Lifeguard Alumni Association.

 

The citizens of San Pedro have recognized John’s many contributions to the city, it’s people, it’s history, and it’s beloved lifeguard service.  He has been recognized as the Los Angeles City Employee of the Year, the San Pedro Citizen of the Year, the Honorary Mayor of San Pedro, the Citizen of the Century, and now the 2008 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement award winner.