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2018 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees


2018 Medal of Valor Honoree

Ocean Lifeguard Joe Rickabaugh

Joe Rickabaugh

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, at approximately 0740 hours, OL Joe Rickabaugh was off-duty and surfing at Ventura County Line beach.  Conditions at County Line on this day included a solid 3 - 5 foot south swell and a large crowd in the line-up.  At approximately, 0750 hours, Rickabaugh heard screams for help and quickly recognized what appeared to be an unconscious surfer floating in the water some 100 yards away.  Rickabaugh immediately paddled toward the victim and took command of the incident. Though the victim was conscious, he complained of no feeling to his arms and legs and could not move his extremities. Rickabaugh placed the victim on a surfboard and, with the help of fellow surfers, assisted the victim through the surf and shore break back to the beach.  Rickabaugh’s outstanding ocean skills enabled him to escort the victim back to shore in the safest manner possible.   


OL Rickabaugh remained with the patient and provided appropriate medical aid until EMS personnel arrived. Rickabaugh briefed EMS responders and then assisted with extrication of the patient from the beach and up the bluff toward arriving paramedics. Additionally, Rickabaugh took the time to safely transport the victim’s surfboard back to his vehicle. OL Rickabaugh remained on-scene until a Ventura County Airship transported the patient to a local area hospital.


2018 Medal of Valor Honoree



Ocean Lifeguard Tucker Hopkins

2018 Distinguished Service Honorees

Captain Patrick O'Neill

Rescue Boat Captain Chris Lallone

Tucker Hopkins

Patrick O'Neill

Chris Lallone

On a busy summer day in Zuma Beach in the afternoon with 4 – 6’ waves produced by a combo swell, 2 persons were instantly sucked out to sea in a rip current that had rapidly formed. OLS Tucker Hopkins and OL Joe Everett ran down and started swimming out to rescue them. The rip current had pulled the victims about 150 - 200 yards offshore, as Hopkins and Everett swam as fast as they could. Baywatch Malibu also responded, however the Rescue boat was challenged in getting to the victims due to the dynamic surfline activity that day. Eventually, Hopkins made contact with the first victim. He quickly assessed the status of the first victim in the rip current, as he noticed the second victim further out in the rip current appeared to be in a higher level of distress. Hopkins focused his rescue efforts on the second victim and starting swimming, as Everett was shortly behind and able to make contact with the first victim. Between strokes, Hopkins noticed the second victim bobbing up and down, under water and gasping for air, barely holding on to life. Hopkins began yelling out to victim between breaths and swim strokes, trying to get him to stay strong, stay on the surface and that help is imminent.  


As Hopkins made contact with the second victim, he discovered that the victim was incoherent and delirious. The victim couldn’t follow any instructions and wouldn’t take the rescue can. Therefore, Hopkins “bear hugged” the victim and physically put the rescue can under his arms. Hopkins then attempted to coach the victim through the rescue process. By that time, Rescue Boat Captain Chris Lallone skillfully maneuvered Baywatch Malibu into a position where Hopkins and Everett could successfully pull their victims on board. As Hopkins and Everett swam their victims towards the rescue boat, Hopkins was challenged in getting the uncooperative victim to the boat and had to side stroke while holding the victim on the rescue can. Once Hopkins got the victim to the rescue boat, the victim had let go of the rescue can and submerged underwater. Hopkins quickly pulled the victim back up to the surface and communicated with the Rescue Boat Deckhand - Captain Patrick O'Neill to strategically get the now unconscious victim onto the rescue boat for medical attention. Due to the dynamic situation and ocean conditions, this took multiple attempts and required O'Neill physically pulling the unconscious victim up into the rescue boat, while Hopkins assisted from the water. 


Once on-board, the victim began vomiting as O'Neill and Hopkins started medical treatment. After suctioning the patients airway, the patient regained consciousness and appeared to have chest pain and difficulty breathing. While patient care was underway, Lallone made the decision to transport the patient by ground instead of air, and requested an RWC to be launched to transport the patient from the deck of Baywatch Malibu to the shoreline.


Captain John Zimpleman launched the RWC and skillfully navigated through the surfline to the swim step of the Rescue Boat. Using the rescue tube, Hopkins sandwiched the victim to the back of the RWC on the sled. Zimpleman navigated the RWC safely through the surfline closer to shore where OLS John Newton and Hopkins dragged the victim out of the water and onto a backboard. Patient care was then transferred to Paramedics staged near by. The victim was evacuated via helicopter to the hospital where he would make a full recovery. 


Mr. Hopkins’ ocean knowledge, physical fitness, and quick decision-making enabled him to adapt and perform such a challenging ocean rescue.  The patient would have surely drowned without Mr. Hopkins response.          


2018 Distinguished Service Honoree

Lifeguard Captain Brandon Chapman

Brandon Chapman

On February 11, 2018, Captain Brandon Chapman was patrolling Venice Beach, North of the Venice Beach Pier around 11:30am, when he was approached by bystanders on the beach yelling for help. Captain Chapman quickly responded to the call for help to find a 14 year old male victim buried in the sand. The victim was trapped under 3 feet of sand and hypoxic for at least one minute, with just his nose and chin visible. Captain Chapman being the first responder on scene, hastily activated a still alarm for the sand entrapment. Captain Chapman then worked with good Samaritans on scene in an attempt to extricate the victim until additional lifeguard resources arrived. Once additional lifeguard resources arrived on scene, Captain Chapman led both lifeguard personnel and bystanders as they worked together to safely and effectively extricate the victim. 


The 14 year old victim was removed from the sand entrapment and promptly treated by Lifeguards and LAFD . Due to the rapid response and skilled leadership of Captain Chapman, the victim was breathing on his own and made a full recovery post-incident. 


2018 Distinguished Service Honorees

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Greg Crum

Ocean Lifeguard Ignacio Pagliaro

Greg Crum

Ignacio Pagliaro

At approximately 7:30am on May 12, 2018, OLS Greg Crum was standing by at 40th Street in Manhattan Beach when he heard someone yelling from the South. OLS Crum quickly scanned the beach and saw a man flagging him down, halfway between the Rosecrans and 40th St. Towers. 


OLS Crum drove towards the man, who then started running to the back of the beach towards the El Porto parking lot, behind the 40th St Tower. OLS Crum followed suit and as he was driving up to the scene with lights and sirens, he observed a Good Samaritan administering chest compressions on a 60 year old male on the sidewalk of the El Porto parking lot.


OLS Crum radioed the serious call to the Lifeguard Headquarters in Hermosa Beach and pulled the vehicle up to the bike path. Seeing as there was no feasible access to the scene due to a barrier that consisted of a fence on top of a wall separating the parking lot from the bike path, OLS Crum grabbedtheresuscitator bag and AED, quickly tossed the gear over the fence to by-standers, and proceeded to climb the wall and subsequently jump over the fence to gain access to the victim.


Upon entering the scene, OLS Crum instructed Good Samaritan Matthew Donatucci to continue giving chest compressions while he prepared the AED. OLS Crum delivered one shock from the AED to the victim and instructed Donatucci to continue compressions while he assembled O2 and a Bag Valve Mask to deliver rescue breaths. While OLS Crum and Donatucci were efficiently working up the victim, OL Ignacio Pagliaro arrived on scene after hearing the call go out on the radio while on-duty in a county vehicle, and promptly took over chest compressions forDonatucci. 


While continuing high quality CPR, the patient spontaneously came to, and was breathing and talking due to OL Pagliaro and OLS Crum’s quick response and effective care. Very shortly after, Lifeguard Captain Jeff Horn and the Manhattan Beach Fire Department arrived on scene and MBFD continued patient care. The patient was reported as stable in the hospital a few days later. 

The rescuers and rescued, from left to right: MBFD firefighter paramedic Bo Reynolds, LA County lifeguards Ignacio Pagliaro and Greg Crum, Matt Donatucci, Jeff DeCosta, MBFD firefighter paramedic Rudy Mejia, and MBFD Capt. Tom Desmond. Photo by Mark McDermott ER


2018 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Lifeguard Captain Dan Atkins (Retired)

Dan Atkins

Dan was born in Carmel, California.  His father was stationed there in the Navy.


Dan’s family moved to Los Angeles a few years later and he was swimming AAU by age 7.  He continued swimming throughout high school at University High in West L.A.  In 1973 the City of Los Angeles was hiring beach lifeguards at age 17.  After passing the swim test and completing L.A. City’s training academy, Dan was placed on schedule at Venice, Will Rogers and Dockweiler,


In 1974 Dan rowed crew at UCLA in the Freshman 8 Boat.  Soon thereafter he transferred to UCSB where he competed on the swim team for the next 3 years.  Dan graduated in 1979 with a degree in Political Science.


Dan married his wife, Kimberly, in 1990.  They have two amazing children, Mason and Rachel, who are currently in college.


When Dan started college, he was very cognizant of the Lifeguard Division mergers between Santa Monica, Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County.  After the merger he transferred to Zuma.  Dan went permanent in 1985 and worked all three lifeguard sections within Los Angeles County.  Dan was promoted to Lifeguard Captain in 1994.  He finished his career in the Northern Section after 37 years of Service.  Thirty years as permanent.


In 1992 Dan was elected President of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association.  During Dan’s 4-year tenure as president he played a key leadership role in two major events affecting lifeguarding in Los Angeles County.  The first was the successful merger of lifeguard operations into the Los Angeles County Fire Department.  That merger appropriately placed the lifeguards into a public safety department with an identical mission as their own and created a firm financial base for continued lifesaving operations within Los Angeles County.  The second major accomplishment was the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Associations successful efforts in obtaining the transfer of title of the State Beaches within the County to the County of Los Angeles. Thus, providing for local control of all beaches from Cabrillo Beach to Nicholas Canyon and a consistency of service in the operations of those beaches.




A.        1988-1991 Lifeguard Recheck Training Teams.  Updated             and modernized the program.

B.        1992-1996.  Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association             President.

C.        1994.  Instrumental in merging the Lifeguard Division                 into the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

D.        1995.  Instrumental in getting back “State Beaches”                   after  the State takeover.

E.         Instrumental in passage of 3 bills in State Legislature.

            1.  Lifeguard Cancer Presumption Bill.

            2.  “Ocean Lifeguard” language added to Government                    Code as public safety.  This was for purposes of                        attaching Proposition 172 funds.

            3.  Boating and Waterways bill passage at Board of                          Supervisors to regain State Beaches.

F.         1999-2007. Member of Pacific Coast Highway Safety                   Committee headed by State Senator Sheila Kuehl.

G.        1999-2007. Lifeguard liaison on Malibu Public Safety                   Commission.

            1996. Member of Committee to elect Don Knabe to 4th               District Supervisor.

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