2010 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
2010 Medal of Valor Honoree
Rescue Boat Captain Steve Powell
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Luke Williams
At 10:05 am on Sunday, October 4, 2009, Lifeguard Rescue Boat Baywatch Isthmus responded to a Mayday call reporting a vessel possibly going aground on the backside of the West End of Catalina Island. The wind was gusting to over 30 Knots, with 12-15 foot seas. As Baywatch neared the scene, another boater reported seeing not one, but two boats pushed by the conditions towards the rocky shore in an area with many submerged rocks. Baywatch followed the 200-yard debris field, and while Captain Powell negotiated the hazardous conditions, OLS Williams swam in to conduct a shoreline search for victims. While Williams was conducting his search, Powell came upon an injured victim in the debris field. He notified Williams to return to the boat, and while Williams swan back through the surf, rocks and debris, Powell managed to singlehandedly remove the victim from the water while controlling the Baywatch. Upon Williams return, they began treating the hypothermic, injured patient, and were able to determine that there were in fact two vessels, with 4 more persons missing! After further search, Baywatch was able to locate and rescue the other four survivors, and all five wee soon on board, being treated for various injuries including hypothermia and near drowning. A Coast Guard helicopter had arrived on scene, but it was determined that conditions were too rough to attempt to airlift any of the victims, so Williams continued treatment and stabilization of all 5 patients, while Powell negotiated the still hazardous conditions and transported the patients 20-minutes to the helipad at the Isthmus hyperbaric chamber. From the helipad, all five patients were transported to a hospital on the mainland. Though both vessels were completely destroyed, the Baywatch Isthmus crew was able to successfully rescue 5 survivors during a severe weather event along a rocky shoreline, with no back up or additional resources readily available.
2010 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Bret Lanford
One Saturday, May 8 at one in the afternoon, Lifeguard Rescue Boat Baywatch Malibu was dispatched to a person stuck on the side of a cliff on Point Dume. Baywatch arrived on scene and located an adult male 75 feet above the rocks on the southeast end of point Dume. OLS Lanford, the Baywatch deckhand, suited up with his personal protective gear, grabbed a line and swam in through the large surf to the rocks below the victim. He climbed a 60-degree slope and reached the victim who had been hanging on the side of the cliff for a half hour and was extremely exhausted. At considerable rick to him, OLS Lanford then secured the victim with one end of the line and attached the other end of the line around him to prevent the victim from falling. While waiting for additional resources, the exhausted victim began to panic, and fearing the victim would not be able to hand on much longer, OLS Lanford free climbed another 20-feet to the trail above, and pulled the victim to safety.
2010 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Jon Van Duinwyck
On December 26, at 6 in the evening and after darkness had set in, Santa Monica Headquarters received a call of a pier jumper off the Santa Monica Pier. The three-person crew from Santa Monica responded, and OLS Van Duinwyck and his partner entered the water on rescueboards. About half way out, they noticed several people waving them over to the southeast corner of the pier, where they had witnessed the victim jump off the pier, submerge, and never come up. Thinking that they had a surface rescue, the lifeguards were equipped just with fins, rescue tubes and searchlights. A Santa Monica Harbor Patrolman lowered Jon a small SCUBA tank (called a bail out bottle) and a dive mask. Jon immediately started diving for the victim. After an approximately 3-minute search he surfaced, got his bearings, then dove again. By this time 2 other Ocean Lifeguard Specialists were on scene to assist. No more than a minute later, OLS Van Duinwyck surfaced with the jumper, and struggled to keep him at the surface. It took the combined strength of 3 lifeguards to get the heavy victim onto a rescueboard. At first lifeguards could not realize why the victim was so heavy; though he was fully clothed he did not look that large. Lifeguards paddled the victim over to the pier’s hoist, where Harbor Patrol Officers pulled him from the water. Paramedics discovered that the reason the guy was so heavy was because he was wearing a 75-pound lead vest under his clothes. At considerable risk to himself, OLS Van Duinwyk had singlehandedly dove, located and brought a full-sized man fully clothed and wearing a 75-pound lead vest to the surface in under 6 minutes, in complete darkness.
2010 Distinguished Service Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Dylan Jones
On the morning of March 3, a large swell was hammering the Southern California coast. A veteran surfer, and Blacks Beach local, took off on a double overhead wave, pulled into a massive tube, and when the tube closed out, he failed to surface. Several waves later, a surfer on the inside saw him float to he surface, face down and lifeless. The surfer paddled to the victim, struggling to hold him at the surface, while yelling for help. Fortunately for the victim, off duty paramedic lifeguard and expert surfer Dylan Jones was in the pack on the outside, and heard the cries. He caught the next wave, and expertly surfed it right to the victim. He immediately put the 180 lb. unconscious surfer onto his 7-foot surfboard, and paddled him to shore, where another surfer, who happened to be a physician, met him. Together, the doctor and OLS Jones worked up the patient, who had no pulse, no breathing, and was completely lifeless. The rescuers had no equipment other than their own skills, no airway equipment and no defibrillator but their CPR quickly showed results. By the time paramedics arrived, the patient was not only breathing on his own, he was also conscious and answering questions. Without OLS Jones’ expert skills as a lifeguard paramedic and surfer, and his immediate response to a cry for help, the outcome would have certainly been less favorable.
2010 Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Bob Buchanan is the recipient of the 2010 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement award. Bob became a recurrent lifeguard for Los Angeles County in 1966. Bob worked all the South Bay beaches and quickly discovered that he was a good fit for this profession.
In his third season, Bob was selected to be a instructor for the Jr. Lifeguard program at Torrance beach. It was in this assignment that Bob really perfected his outstanding waterman skills. He quickly improved his surf racing skills by training the Jr. Lifeguards and he learned how to row a dory by working with veteran Buzzy James. Bob showed what a fierce competitor by competing on 5 winning Taplin teams as both a swimmer and a doryman.
In 1972, Bob was promoted to a permanent lifeguard position. He worked in the Southern Section and then transferred to the Northern Section two years later. His dedicated and professional approach to the job was well received by his co-workers. At Zuma, he gained notoriety when his picture appeared on the front page of the L.A. Times for rescuing a dog off a Malibu Cliff. This incident gave him some additional insight into the importance of good public relations. He put this knowledge to use in future assignments.
Bob served as a member to the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association (LACOLA) board of directors in the mid 70’s and served as the LACOLA president from 1979-1982. In this role, Bob directed the bargaining unit that negotiated salaries and working conditions for all the lifeguards. His strong leadership skills and easygoing personality made him very effective in this role.
During this same period, Bob served as instructor for the lifeguard “rookie school”, President of the Doryman’s Association for three years, and he was a member of the lifeguard Underwater Recovery Team. Throughout the 1980’s he was in charge of beaches in both the Central and Northern Sections.
In 1988 Bob’s career took another turn. He was promoted to Captain and accepted a position as the training officer at Lifeguard Division. At the direction of Chief Don Rohrer, Bob really developed this position by using his vision to incorporate additional areas of responsibility. Bob became the lifeguard’s first Pubic Information Officer. He set up media relations training for all the lifeguard Captains and a select group of lifeguards who would be assigned to deal with the media. Bob also instituted a vehicle safety program for all permanent lifeguards to improve the lifeguard driving procedures and improve public safety.
Bob oversaw the lifeguard Swift Water Response team; developed a proactive Public Education program in the schools; established a lifeguard promotional exams unit; instituted college credit for lifeguard training, including full reimbursement to the department for training costs.
Bob also focused on improving the relationship between the lifeguards and the fire personnel. While at Division, he became an active member of the Association of Chief’s within the Fire Department and served as it’s Treasurer for 4 years. In 2001 he requested a transfer back to the Northern Section where he spent three years before retiring in 2004