Lifeguard Medal of Valor Dinner
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
The Lifeguard Medal of Valor gives recognition to Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguards for acts of heroism. The program is sponsored by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and was first awarded in 1981. It serves as a signal to the lifeguards that the public recognizes and appreciates the tremendous efforts they undertake. The bronze medal features a running lifeguard carrying a rescue can (buoy) and is presented to the honorees at the 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.
2023 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
2023 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Sam O'Hare
On March 4, 2023, at Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro, Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Sam O’Hare responded to a major medical emergency/mass casualty incident involving multiple victims of a shooting a short distance from his tower.
A few minutes before 8:00 p.m., just as OLS O’Hare, the only remaining Lifeguard on duty began to close the area. Royal Palms/White Point Beach is a fairly isolated pocket beach known for its tide pools, rocky and sometimes slippery shoreline, combined with rough and dangerous surf. It is very popular with locals for its picnic and family atmosphere.
While the beach was still very crowded, O’Hare heard multiple gun shots coming from less than approximately 100 yards to his west in the parking lot near the picnic and restroom area.
O’Hare immediately requested backup from law enforcement and Fire Department resources, and without regard to his own safety responded to the area where he found multiple victims with gunshot wounds. He began the job of triaging the patients, as well advising the remaining patrons on areas of safety. He began working on the four victims, stopping the bleeding and treating them for shock.
When backup units from LAPD arrived, they secured the area while L.A. City Fire Paramedics began Advanced Life Care alongside L.A. County Lifeguards. All four victims were transported — with one in critical condition — to area hospitals.
Without O’Hare’s quick response, calm demeanor, professional triage under extremely chaotic and hazardous circumstances, these victims, as well as the dozens of other patrons, may not have survived.
O’Hare, initially acting alone and putting himself in a life-threatening situation in an extraordinary effort to protect the public, is the finest example of an L.A. County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguard Specialist.
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Samual O'Hare
Royal Palms / White Point Beach
2023 Medal of Valor Honoree
Captain Ocean Lifeguard Gevorg Akopyan
On February 7, 2023, around 1:00 p.m. Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Gevorg Akopyan was on his daily workout, a southbound run on the sand toward Venice.
Near Santa Monica Tower 22, OLS Akopyan recognized a middle-aged female on the beach who had been rescued multiple times in the past for various incidents such as pier jumping and disorderly conduct.
Akopyan observed the female exhibiting erratic behavior. Being familiar with her call history, he stopped his workout and watched the woman to ensure both her safety as well as the safety of those around her.
At that moment, the woman suddenly charged two unsuspecting beach patrons: a mother and her 2-year-old son. The assailant was able to pull the mother down to the ground and away from her son in an attempt to kidnap the child.
When the assailant grabbed the boy, Akopyan jumped into action. He secured the toddler while distancing himself from the assailant and ordering her to the ground.
Lifeguard Captain Spencer Parker arrived on scene, helped to secure the mother and son in his vehicle until officers from the Santa Monica Police Department arrived to detain the suspect.
Captain Ocean Lifeguard Gevorg Akopyan
Santa Monica Beach
2023 Distinguished Service Award
On May 28, 2023, Ocean Lifeguards Sydney Brouwer, John Pearce, and Erin Swift were working at an L.A. County Fire Department Lifeguard Division Recruitment Booth teaching CPR to members of the public. It was during Memorial Day weekend and the City of Hermosa Beach’s annual “Fiesta Hermosa” celebration. As a result, the Pier Plaza was packed with visitors.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., the team received a report of a man choking nearby on Pier Avenue. OL Brouwer requested backup and all three OL’s responded to the scene.
Upon arrival, they observed that members of the public were beginning CPR on an adult male. Brouwer and OL Pearce took over compressions, after checking for a pulse and respirations and finding none. An AED was attached, and the patient was shocked a total of three times.
Lifeguard Rescue 100, Area Captain 15, Marine Battalion 100, and L.A. County Fire Squad 100 arrived on scene and began advanced care, including inserting an airway, followed by the Paramedics setting up a LUCAS device to take over manual compressions. With the patient stabilized, he was transported to the hospital.
Because of the instantaneous and professional response during the critical first minutes of care, the patient was successfully resuscitated amid the chaotic and crowded circumstances.
Ocean Lifeguard Sydney Brouwer
Ocean Lifeguard Jon Pearce
Ocean Lifeguard Erin Swift
Hermosa Beach Pier Fiesta
2023 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley - Retired
Steve Moseley began his career as an Ocean Lifeguard in 1981. During his 36-year career, he worked all the beaches along the 72 miles of Los Angeles Coastline, from Malibu to San Pedro until retiring as Chief Lifeguard in 2019.
Steve grew up in Glendale, Ca., son of Carl and Bree Moseley. He began swimming and playing water polo in 1976, at the famous Hoover High School. He continued his aquatic and academic education at Valley Community College, where he played water polo for Bill Krause, another Lifeguard Legend. Steve then transferred to USC and graduated in 1984 with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. Steve was also an Eagle Scout.
In 1981, Steve graduated from the Lifeguard Rookie Academy, and worked in the Central Section at Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, and Will Rogers Beach. After seven years, he realized that his lifetime calling would be as a Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard and was promoted to a permanent position as an Ocean Lifeguard Specialist in 1991.
With Steve’s passion and dedication to lifesaving, and his people skills so apparent, Steve was recruited to and elected to the L.A. County Lifeguard Association’s (LACOLA) Board of Directors. Steve served as a Member at Large, Vice-President, President, and finally President Emeritus. He assisted during some of the most turbulent times for Lifeguard Division and LACOLA. His leadership was instrumental with the merger of the Lifeguard Division into the L.A. County Fire Department and in the fight for control over the beaches of Royal Palms, Redondo, Manhattan, Topanga, Las Tunas, Malibu, Dan Blocker, and Point Dume helping to preserve the continuity, stewardship and quality service provided by L.A. County Lifeguards from County Line to San Pedro and Catalina Island.
In 1997, Steve was promoted to Captain and assigned to the Southern Section, working the beaches of Cabrillo, Torrance, Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan, and Dockweiler. During this time, Steve was placed in charge of the Lifeguard Training Academy, where for nine years he impacted the lives of hundreds of recruits and dozens of instructors. Included with this assignment was the responsibility of Public Information Officer and oversight of the Junior Lifeguard Program.
In 2001, Steve was promoted to Lifeguard Section Chief and assigned to the Northern Section, with responsibility for Malibu/Surfrider, Dan Blocker, Point Dume, Zuma, and Nicholas Canyon beaches. Eventually, Steve was reassigned back to the South Bay and was promoted to Chief Lifeguard in 2014.
For 24 years, Steve and his wife Jennifer have called Hermosa Beach “The Jewel of the South Bay”, their home. They have one son, Max, 22, who has recently graduated from George Washington University.
Steve is known for his insight, wisdom, dedication, physical skills, professionalism, thoughtfulness, and wit.
He represents the best of Lifeguard Division and so, is recognized with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley