Something new is brewing at the Park Board that has potential to have a lasting and positive impact for the increasing number of beach users that the island sees each year. We are about to launch a Beach Patrol Advisory Committee (B.P.A.C.).
The mission of the Beach Patrol Advisory Committee (BPAC) is to support the Galveston Park Board of Trustees (PBOT) on issues related to the safety and security of beach patrons using Galveston Island Beaches, including long-term planning, budgeting, staffing levels, funding, and safety equipment.
If you’re a regular reader of this column you likely have a feel for the myriad of services Beach Patrol offers in addition to direct guarding of 32 miles of beach. In order to stretch our resources to address the needs of one of the country’s busiest beaches, we augment the core program with volunteer programs, a large day camp, a beach park security program, disaster response, 24/7/365 “on call” program, a large water safety educational program, and numerous collaborations and partnerships that enhance beach safety. But even with all of this, keeping the beaches safe and the drowning fatality rate low is an ongoing challenge. And with increasing use on the west end, the stretch between Stewart Beach and East Beach, Babe’s Beach, and the entire beach during what was formerly known as the “cold season”, looking at how to meet these trends is critical to our moral imperative and economic health as a tourist destination.
The B.P.A.C. Committee will take direction from the Park Board of Trustees and the annual work plans authorized by the Board to develop solutions, recommendations, insight, metrics, analysis, and direction on issues related to the safety and security of people who use Galveston’s beaches. BPAC’s meetings, recommendations and reports will be open to the public, with all written recommendations and findings sent to the Board chairman for consideration by the Board.
This committee is to be comprised of 13 individuals elected by the Board of Trustees including 1 representative each from local law enforcement, fire, EMS, and the Hotel and Lodging Association. Joining them will be 4 Citizens at large, 1 beach related business representative, 2 representatives from volunteer organizations dealing with beaches, and 2 members of the Park Board of Trustees.
A representative for the City of Galveston and several from the Beach Patrol shall serve as non-voting resource members.
I see this as a real opportunity to share the good job that my crew does and to gain a fresh perspective and increased connections to the groups the members represent. I’m a big believer in organizational transparency and see this as an opportunity to enhance that. But most importantly, as a life long public safety professional, it’s a wonderful opportunity to focus on something most organizations don’t spend enough energy on. Planning for the future and working out responses in advance to all types of hypothetical stumbling blocks. It’s the same principle we teach new guards. Plan for and practice responses to as many variables as possible before you’re diving in the water to make a save.