2009 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
2009 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Andrew Herzik
On Saturday, July 26, 2008 Andrew Herzik invited a friend to the Crows Nest at Tony’s on the Pier in Redondo Beach to enjoy the 360-degree view Redondo Beach, King Harbor and the South Bay. While pointing south to Indicator Point, the Ocean Lifeguard noticed a 25-foot sailboat without power, sails down, drifting at the mouth of King Harbor. The wind blowing 10-15 knots out of the southwest pushed the boat closer and closer to the pier. Herzik saw a female on the boat waving her arms in a clear signal of distress. It was at this point, according to Herzik that he “politely excused himself from the table and began to run to the end of the pier.” As Herzik arrived at the end of the Redondo Beach Pier, the boat was only 20 yards away from the concrete pilings. Sean Nolan, the lifeguard at Ainsworth Court was on the scene with a rescueboard instructing the three people on board, comprising a 40-year-old male, 40-year-old female and a 2-year-old child, to put on lifejackets. As the victims were preparing to evacuate, the boat slammed into the pier. Herzik asked the fishermen on the pier to hold onto the mast in order to minimize potential injury to the people on board. Herzik decided that OL Nolan could use more backup in the water, since Lifeguard Rescue Boat Baywatch Redondo was on another call at the Cove in Palos Verdes and additional lifeguard backup was minutes away, Herzik immediately leapt from the pier and swam to the vessel. He then assisted the woman and child off the boat and onto the rescueboard. He then climbed on board the vessel and attached the on scene lifeguards towline to the D-ring on the bow. Lifeguards Nester and Anderson arrived on scene from their towers on the beach and were beginning to tow the boat away from the pier when a Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol rescue vessel arrived. As the boat was slamming into the pier pilings Herzik attached the Harbor Patrol tow line to the boat and then jumped back in the water. After confirming that the man, woman and child were safe on the rescueboard Herzik returned to his seat at Tony’s, where, he says, they didn’t even discount his bill.
2009 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Lorry Haddock
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist John Renaud
On January 10, 2009, Ocean Lifeguard Specialists Lorry Haddock and John Renaud rescued Ira Ehrlich, who was kayaking off Malibu during a small craft warning. Ehrlich’s kayak was quickly overturned by the rough water and high winds. The owner of Malibu Seafood noticed the man’s failed attempts to swim to shore and called 911. Alerted by the emergency call, Haddock and Renaud took out the lifeguard personal watercraft (PWC) and sped to locate Ehrlich. The two lifeguards found him in 54-degree water with no wetsuit, past the wind line, a half-mile from shore. The kayaker was treated for hypothermia. In a later statement, Ehrlich said, “I owe my life to these fine gentlemen who calmly and quickly got me on board their craft and brought me back to shore…… I wanted to thank the brave professional lifeguards from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
2009 Distinguished Service Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Trace Neilan
On July 30, 2008, Ocean lifeguard Trace Neilan ran from Nicholas Tower to the State-owned portion of the beach to affect the rescue of a 66-year-old man who sustained major neck trauma while bodysurfing. As OL Neilan ran down the beach to make the rescue, he called Northern Section Lifeguard Headquarters to ask for backup. OLS Neilan, OLS Matt Rhodes, Brian Henderson and Mark Clevennger pulled the victim from the water, pulseless and apnic. Both Los Angeles County and California State Lifeguards were instrumental in the rescue, and the subsequent CPR and cervical spine immobilization procedures that were performed.
2009 Distinguished Service Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Brandon Beer
Ocean Lifeguard Carly Rogers
On August 2, 2008, at the Manhattan Beach Pier, a 50-year-old man participating in the International Surf Festival’s Bodysurfing competition exited the water after his heat and collapsed on the sand. Off-duty Ocean Lifeguard Brendon Beer was stretching about 10 feet away, and ran over to assess the situation. The Victim had a few agonal breaths, and then stopped breathing. At this time, OL Carly Rogers, also off-duty and attending the bodysurfing contest, responded to the man’s aid. Beer opened the airway to begin rescue breathing, and Rogers handled compressions for 2-rescuer CPR. In the middle of the second cycle, the victim took several breaths; when Beer took the victim’s pulse it was very weak. Tower lifeguard OL Ian Christiansen arrived at the same time as Captain Cunningham and they began to assist. Lifeguard Rescue 100 arrived about two minutes later with OLS’s Lemm and Hall. The victim was connected to an automatic defibrillator and oxygen. A shockable rhythm was detected and after the first shock was delivered the man came to, started breathing on his own and came to. Manhattan Beach Paramedics transported him to the hospital awake and alert. He called the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Headquarters a week later to give his thanks to those that saved his life.
2009 Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Wally Millican is the recipient of the 2009 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement award. Wally Millican began his lifeguarding career as a recurrent lifeguard in 1964. He worked the Southern Section and immediately fell in love with the job. In 1966, he was promoted to a permanent lifeguard position and was assigned to Zuma Beach where he worked with Jerry Cunningham and Bob Burnside, who assigned him as the permanent in charge of Malibu Surfrider Beach. In 1969, he returned to the Southern Section where he worked primarily in Manhattan Beach.
Wally was as intense and as dedicated to the job on his last day as he was on his first day. He simply never wanted to let anyone down. He never took his eyes off the water and he somehow saw things no one else saw. To some that was intimidating. To others it was a welcome set of additional eyes.
While lifeguarding at Marine Avenue one winter day, Wally spotted a shiny glare coming from the El Segundo Pier (1 mile away). When he viewed the scene through the binoculars, he discovered that a worker had fallen from the pier while lowering an aluminum skiff into the water. Wally immediately responded to the scene and rescued the fully clothed worker who was by time barely breathing and hypothermic. Captain Dwight Crum described it to the Daily Breeze as the greatest rescue he had ever seen.
In 1972, Wally was promoted to Lieutenant where he was assigned to the Santa Monica Headquarters with Captain John McFarlane. Wally assisted with the merger between the Santa Monica Lifeguard service and the Los Angeles County Lifeguards. In 1974, Wally was asked by Captain John Horne to move to the Hermosa Beach headquarters to take over as the “Operations Lieutenant”. He held this position for the next 24 years, the longest tenure for this assignment in history.
In addition to his regular duties, Lieutenant Millican was always the first to volunteer for any extra project that would help the lifeguard service. These projects included organizing and cooking for the International Surf Festival dinner (over 20 years); section vehicle officer; section dive officer; rookie school instructor; lifeguard Explorer Scout coordinator; “on call” officer for all after hours beach emergencies.
Wally was involved in almost all major emergencies in the Southern Section from 1964 until his retirement in 1997. These emergencies included the United Airlines crash off LAX in 1969. His dedication and leadership was an inspiration to all of the lifeguards that worked with him. He always led by example and was the first lifeguard in the water on any rescue situation. He finished off his 36-year career by making an unassisted rescue of two distressed boaters whose boat had lost power and drifted inside the surfline at 6th Street in Hermosa Beach. He performed this rescue at 10:00 PM on the last night of his illustrious career.