The Galveston Island Beach Patrol
The Galveston Island Beach Patrol (GIBP) is certified as an “advanced” level agency of the United States Lifesaving Association and is the designated lifeguard service for the city of Galveston. It is a Texas Department of Health certified first response agency employing lifeguards, senior guards, supervisors, peace officers, and dispatchers. The mission of GIBP is to protect the over 7 million people who visit the Galveston beaches each year, respond to aquatic emergencies 24/7/365, educate the public about beach safety, and be a good community partner. GIBP interfaces with other city public safety agencies like Galveston Police, Fire and Emergency Services on a daily basis.
Beach Patrol deploys 24 lifeguard towers staffed by lifeguards who meet and exceed the qualifications established by the United States Lifesaving Association. Galveston’s beaches are challenging to guard. Heavy crowds, rip current generating jetties, and constantly changing conditions keep guards very busy all year.
GIPB is funded solely by hotel occupancy tax (generated by overnight stays in hotels and vacation rentals). Beach Patrol is the designated lifeguard service for the City of Galveston’s 32 miles of beach but uses no taxes from the citizens’ ad valorem tax dollars.
Beach Patrol has called the Stewart Beach Pavilion home for the past 30 years. It has operated from Stewart Beach since the ‘40s. During the summer season, it houses more than 140 lifeguards, 120 junior guards, and 50 volunteers.
Beach Patrol’s junior guard program consists of 120 youth ages 10-15 with an interest in the beach environment. The objectives of the program are centered around values of mental and physical discipline and the respect of themselves, others, authority, and the natural environment. Many of the participants go on to be GIBP lifeguards. In fact, around 40% of the guards from the USA come through the program. The “break even” program is very economical and designed to be accessible to all Galveston’s kids.
Two other community programs under the Beach Patrol net are the Wave Watchers (WW) and the Survivor Support Network (SSN). Wave Watchers provide a way for citizens to join the Beach Patrol team. In partnership with Jesse Tree, GIBP maintains a cadre of volunteers who specialize in mental health, religious support, translation, and logistical support for families of victims of drowning fatality. The program also supports the critical incident stress needs of the Beach Patrol and of other public safety entities in the area.
GIPB partners with organizations like Galveston Marine Response (GMR) and the Galveston County Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT). GMR is multi-agency response group comprised of Galveston Fire Department, Galveston Police Marine Division, Galveston Island Beach Patrol, Jamaica Beach Fire Rescue, Galveston EMS, and the Galveston Sheriff Office Marine Division. The CERT Program educates citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills. GIBP also has a formalized partnership with the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service office and coordinates daily on hazards including rip currents, lightning, storms, and tidal events.
Stop by and visit your Beach Patrol!