Lifeguard Medal of Valor Dinner

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Medal of Valor gives recognition to the Los Angeles County Lifeguards for acts of heroism in the line of duty.  The program is sponsored by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and was first awarded in 1981.  It serves as a signal to lifeguards that the public recognizes and appreciates the tremendous efforts they undertake. The bronze medal features a running lifeguard carrying a rescue can (float) and is presented to the honoree(s) at the Surf Festival kickoff dinner prior to the annual International Surf Festival

 

For a complete list of prior honorees please use the link above.  Regiatration and contact information is also available above for those wanting to attend the event.

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Scott Davey
Event Coordinator

2022 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees

2022 Medal of Valor Honoree

Ocean Lifeguard Nick Wapner

Nick Wapner

On Thursday October 7, 2021, Hawaiian Josh Moniz, a world class surfer and waterman was severely injured and came close to dying while surfing in Portugal.  Josh was surfing the very famous and demanding surf break called “Supertubos”, also called the “Pipeline of Portugal”, known for its shallow water, hard breaking and hollow waves, caused by ever shifting sandbars.  In other words, a place for expert surfers only.  Joining Josh, were two other pro surfers Reo Inaba and Mason Ho, along with a few others, including Ocean Lifeguard Nick Wapner.  What followed was a wave that unexpectedly closed out and literally “pile drove” Josh into dry sand.  It turned out, that Josh had seriously injured his spinal column, resulting in him floating helpless in the drop zone.  Mason and Reo were closest to Josh and paddled over to find out what had happened and were soon joined by Nick.  They realized the serious nature of Josh’s injury, the terrible spot they were in and the need for not only immediate rescue, but that proper technique would be required, so Josh wouldn’t be permanently injured.  This is where Nick’s training and skills took over.  Nick was able to stabilize Josh’s neck and with the assistance of Reo and extricate him from the surf.  They continued to provide lifesaving first aid and spinal precautions, until the Portuguese paramedics arrived.  Josh would require surgery and recover completely, thanks to Reo and Mason and Nick’s lifeguarding skills and experience in extreme circumstances. 

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The Surf at Superturbos, Portugal

2022 Distinguished Service Award

Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Swiftwater Team

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On December 20, 2021 at 4:30 am Los Angeles County Fire Department Swiftwater and Lifeguard Response Teams were summoned to Leo Carrillo State Beach in Northern Los Angeles County to a major flooding of the Creek and Campground.  After receiving over 5 inches of water in less than two hours, the Leo Carrillo Creek became a raging and dangerous area. Over the next six hours; in dark, cold, dynamic and hazardous conditions over 50 victims were evacuated from the campground and surrounding creek bed, 40 of whom required rescuing, including 10 minors, 4 elderly and a 10-monthold infant. This was the largest single water flood rescue in Los /Angeles County history. 

 

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responds to many types of emergencies on a daily basis, and it is only because of the dedication, training and unique skills of lifesavers, like these which prevent incidents like this from turning into disasters.

 

This Distinguished Service Award recognizes these talents and efforts.

 

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Ryan Ameche

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Micah Carlson

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Lauren Dale

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Rebecca Gilman

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Chris Maloney

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Chris Newman

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Travis Robinson

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Tim Ryan

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Ryan Addison

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Tito Bourget

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Patrick O’Neill

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Remy Smith

Marine Battalion Chief Olivier O’Connell

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Leo Carrillo Campground December 20, 2021

2022 Distinguished Service Award

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On January 16, 2022, 11:30 am at the Southside of the Topaz Jetty in Redondo Beach, Lifeguards along with members of the public assisted with an ocean rescue. The victim was pulled from the water by local surfers non-breathing and pulseless. Three off-duty lifeguards and a local off-duty Nurse, Meghan O’Keefe initiated CPR and then assisted the on-duty lifeguards stabilize the patient, and restore a pulse after several minutes. The Redondo Beach Fire Paramedics arrived to take over patient care and transport to the hospital.

 

While this might seem like an ordinary ocean rescue, it is far from that.  Only through the team efforts from local surfers, a local nurse, the off-duty lifeguards, on-duty lifeguards and Redondo Paramedics was this victim rescued.

 

This Distinguished Service Award recognizes these talents and efforts.

 

Ocean Lifeguard Jared Sayers

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Robert Baird

Ocean Lifeguard Captain David Cartlidge 

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Arthur Lester 

Ocean Lifeguard Captain Christopher Staffield

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Redondo Incident, January 16, 2022

2022 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Lifeguard Section Chief Chris Linkletter - Retired

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Chris Linkletter

Chris is the first female Lifeguard to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. During her 36- year career, Chris worked on all beaches in every Lifeguard Division Section along the 72 miles of LA County coastline.

Chris was introduced to the Lifeguard profession as a Junior Lifeguard in 1978. She started as an LA County Southern Section Ocean Lifeguard in 1984 and quickly realized it was the profession for her. Along with the beach lifeguarding, she was assigned to the recruitment and public education programs.

Chris graduated from UCLA and promoted to Ocean Lifeguard Specialist (OLS) in 1990. After few years in Northern and Central Sections she settled in Torrance/Redondo and Cabrillo beaches. Chris was an Ocean Lifeguard Training Academy instructor for over 10 years, a Recertification Instructor and Peer Supporter. Chris was the first woman trained to the Swiftwater Rescue II level and was assigned to the Swiftwater Rescue team. She was also the first female Public Information Officer.

In 1999, Chris was the first woman promoted to Lifeguard Captain. She worked on the Central and Southern section beaches and served as the Community Services Captain, overseeing the Public Affairs and Youth programs. Chris was also the first female Fire Department Background investigator. Much of her 15 years as a Captain was at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. During her tenure there, the Palos Verdes Peninsula saw a sharp increase in coastal activity and ocean rescues, especially the Abalone Cove area. Through her role on the Abalone Cove Task Force, collecting data, and working with the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, she was instrumental in re- instating a permanent, year-round lifeguard position at Abalone Cove.

As an OLS and Captain, Chris served on the LA County Lifeguard Association Board of Directors. She was the President of the first LA County Surf Lifesaving Association Board of Directors. The non-profit organization was created to promote open water safety for the public and lifeguards through training, education, life-saving sports, and community outreach.

Chris was the first female Lifeguard Section Chief in 2014. She was assigned to North Lifeguard Battalion Operations (formerly Northern & Central Sections) for 2 years and then the Lifeguard Administration for 2 years. In Admin, she was responsible for Junior Lifeguards, WATER program, Training, and Public Affairs. She returned to North Battalion in 2018 until her retirement in 2021. Chris was honored with the first Fire Department Lifeguard “Trailblazer” award in 2018 and the International Surf Festival created the annual “Linkletter Women’s Surf Relay”. She’s currently the President of Los Angeles Peninsula Swimmers Master’s Team.

Chris has always made physical fitness and major part of her life within and outside of work. She’s competed in surf racing regionally, nationally, and internationally in Lifesaving events. Chris also did triathlons and marathons. She qualified for and raced in 7 Ironman Triathlon World Championships with two top 5 age group finishes.

Chris distinguished herself as a leader, competitor, and role model for all lifeguards with her groundbreaking accomplishments and her work ethic. She hopes she’s been inspiration for women in every profession.

Chris lives in San Pedro with her husband of 27 years, retired Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Scott Linkletter (37 years of service). Scott convinced Chris to pursue a Lifeguard career. He encouraged and supported her every step of the way.

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Lifeguard Section Chief Chris Linkletter

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ISF President Rob McGowan (far right) presenting King Harbor Yacht Club representatives Kelly McMartin and Bill Harkins with the festivals thanks for all the yacht clubs assistance in hosting the 2022 Lifeguard Medal of Valor Awards.