Since Galveston is basically a year-round beach destination, we now look at the “beach season” potentially lasting into December. Whenever the beach action closes, we’ll do our annual stats analysis which we use for all kinds of things including guard and tower placement, times of day and days of week that we need to put resources in certain places, etc. Even though they’re not a comprehensive picture, a snapshot of May-Labor Day stats is valuable for us in determining how busy the beach was year over year.
The big measure is “Preventative Actions” which in a nutshell is moving people from danger, so they don’t have to be rescued later. The Galveston Beach Patrol may be the most proactive lifeguard service in the country based on the way we operate and the environmental factors. Rip currents are responsible for 80% of the rescues ocean lifeguards make and, for the most part along the upper Texas coast, we know that the rip current hazard is primarily near structures. Therefore, we can concentrate on keeping people away from that hazard. We move thousands and thousands of people away from rip currents each year in addition to moving people closer to shore, out of the dangerous waters at the ends of the island, out of the area when lightning is present, etc. Last year and this year were similar with 454,799 and 400,092 respectively. The difference may be related to the 2 ½ weeks of uncharacteristically calm water we experienced in June, because it certainly didn’t feel like there were any less people this year compared to last!
Other notable stats were 5,080 enforcement actions this summer compared to 4,466 last year, 6,120 medical responses compared to last year’s 1,445, and 73,139 water safety talks compared to last year’s 81,732. Medical responses and enforcement actions are notable in that we filter calls for EMS, Fire, and Police by taking care of the majority of these right there on the beach. We’re all pulling together, and we figure if we can “treat and release” as many as we can then it saves other agencies from having to respond to relatively minor stuff. Especially since all of us are so busy during the high season.
So, as we transition from the crazy busy time of year to a less frenetic situation, we’re not going as full tilt and can slow down enough to enjoy the beauty, and humor, of working on Galveston’s beaches.
A hilarious “G-Town event happened the other day when Ball High hosted a giant and very successful track meet at East Beach. There’s something fun, crazy, and sometimes hilarious about us islanders. Of the 60 or so buses that attended the event, only four got stuck in the sand. You guessed where they’re from! The park manager had a sign and was signaling for the buses to go to a groomed area. The lead G-town bus driver leaned his head out and yelled “I’m B.O.I.” as he blasted by into thick sand and immediately got stuck. Love us!