WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE ISLAND

BPAC Kickoff

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 […]

Cold Water Precautions

The water temperature on the beachfront dropped considerably in the pasts couple of weeks. This is a pretty dramatic shift, as only a degree or two makes a significant difference when you’re swimming. Because the water is so shallow here on the upper Texas coast, the water temperature is constantly changing during the fall and […]

AABL Memorial Committee

Years ago, as a young lifeguard, I was assigned to the 29th street lifeguard station, where I worked for the better part of the season. It was truly a local beach back then, frequented by African American Galvestonians. That spot on the beach was truly a community center. I knew lots of the regulars and […]

Back in the Day at Stewart

Stewart Beach has seen many iterations in the recent past. In the 70s and 80s it was booming. Everyone wanted to be at the beach, and to me, nothing was cooler than being a lifeguard. In the summer of ’83 I worked at a bumper boats ride, just outside of the Stewart Beach entrance. Later […]

Moody’s, Babe and HOT

Bobby Moody’s passing is a significant moment for Galveston, and I imagine it brings up a mix of emotions and memories for people because of both his personal impact and the historic influence his family has had on our island community. As a young kid, I spent a lot of time at the Moody’s house. […]

Disco Dog Party

Some of you will remember the gas rig that was the closest platform off the beach. I’m sure they took it down because not much was happening there, but Beach Patrol made good use of it back in the day. It was known as the “close rig”. That and the old light house on the […]

GMR Rescue

“Beach Patrol, car in the water 8 mile road bayside. Occupants possibly trapped inside”. This call dropped a few years back. A call we dread, particularly at night. Supervisor/Officer Austin Kirwin, now our Lieutenant, happened to be near the radio and asked if the “on call” supervisor wanted assistance, which she wisely accepted. Water calls […]

Change

The crazy weather this week was a real indication that the seasons are turning. Was fun to get out into the choppy surf after so many flat days. And we’re all breathing a sigh of relief to have some high tides and rain give the beach sand a good wetting down. I’m not sure how […]

High Season Wrap Up and BOIs

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 […]

Late Summer Tricks

“Good Morning. Ma’am, do you mind hopping down out of our lifeguard tower?” “Why?” “The towers are there for the lifeguards and we prefer other people don’t sit in them. “That’s ridiculous.” “There’s a sign right next to where you’re sitting saying ‘no trespassing’, so it would be the same as sitting in someone else’s […]

Labor Day Advisory

With Labor Day upon us we’re expecting several hundred thousand people to be on the island this weekend. That’s a lot of chances to have something go wrong. Over the past couple of weeks there have been several rescues that we’ve had to make by the rock jetties despite our best efforts to keep people […]

Colombo

I’ve written before about Leroy Colombo, the most well-known lifeguard to come from our island, but someone so larger than life deserves multiple visits. We all know that he was formerly credited in the Guinness Book of World Records with saving 907 lives, the most of any lifeguard in recorded history. Most also know that […]

2023 USLA National Results

The best of the best went head-to-head for 4 days in Virginia Beach last week. The United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships had over 800 Junior Guards, Open Lifeguards, and Age Groupers who battled it out over a long, 4-day competition. All of the Lifesaving Sport events simulate some facet of open water rescue. […]

De-stress Training

The golden orange early morning light slanted across the surface as the bow of the surf ski sliced through glassy, emerald water. The only sounds a mile and a half from shore were from paddles dipping into the water and rhythmic breathing, punctuated by the occasional bird sound. 15 minutes into an hour and a […]

Lucero in action!

The Galveston Police Department dispatcher called to let us know to be on the lookout for a woman who reportedly was on the way to Galveston to commit suicide on the beach, likely either Stewart Beach or East Beach. Supervisor/Officer Michael Lucero was just starting his shift and, recognizing the urgency of the call, decided […]

Beachfest – Junior Lifeguard Program

The end of the Junior Lifeguard Program is here and is a big deal for us. Last Thursday the kids went to Matagorda for a full day on that beautiful, deserted beach. Today is “Beachfest”, which is a day of competition where the kids compete in a run, swim, paddle race, run-swim-run, swim rescue, paddle […]

4th of July – Review & General Safety

Whew! The 4th of July 5-day marathon is over and early Wednesday morning, aside from huge piles of trash being efficiently removed by Coastal Zone Management crews, the beaches returned to normal. The holiday was a good one, with big, mostly well-behaved crowds and water that varied from calm to mildly choppy. We were steady […]

4th & Leadership

Planning for an event as large as a 5-day 4th of July weekend is quite a thing. We check equipment for the guards, Community Emergency Response (CERT) and the park security programs, and make sure the Survivor Support Network is ready to go. We make sure we schedule everyone including additional coverage for the towers, […]

Drowning Fatality and Ripples

A 38-year-old man went swimming on the beach in front of Beach Side Village with his two sons last Tuesday. It was a windy day, and the water was choppy and brown with foam flecks on the surface. We don’t know what happened, but the man ended up unconscious. The trio was spotted in chest […]

Night Calls and Memorial Prep

At 3am a call came over about an attempted suicide at a beach on the west end. Supervisor Stephen Limones was on call and rolled out of bed and drove with lights and sirens to the scene to meet police, fire, and EMS. A family was on the beach and one of them was upset […]

Academy

The group picked their way gingerly across the higher rocks, which were only covered in white, foamy water intermittently. One person, older and moving confidently up and down the rocks, leapt from a higher rock, tucking his rescue tube firmly against his body in midflight, and landed smoothly on top of one of the larger […]

Risk

Years back I climbed up the pyramids in Tical, Guatemala. It was really steep, and the steps were not designed for big American feet. I reached the top and looked out from a view above the rainforest canopy in awe. Then I looked down and realized there were no handrails. I was shocked. In the […]

Surfing Ordinance

Summer is close! The water is getting close to 80 degrees and the early crowds we saw this spring have not slacked off. And we just graduated an amazing new group of Wave Watcher volunteers! Apart from an intermittent smattering of man-o-war and some wind, the conditions have been nice. Looking at the calendar, it […]

Galveston Fire Department and Beach Patrol

This is Peter Davis, Chief of the Beach Patrol.  I want to clarify how much I and my staff respect the Galveston Fire Department and all they do.  We’ve worked together for years and many of my best guards now work as firefighters.  They are an amazing organization and we deeply value our partnership. I […]

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 […]

Lightning

On a summer day in the early ‘80’s, a lone lifeguard stood on Stewart Beach. The air was thick as a dark, green frontal system moved in from the north.  In the distance lifeguard trucks drove up and down the beach using their loudspeakers to let people know lightning was moving into the area. Bolts […]

Wave Watcher Academy – Register Now!

2023   WAVE WATCHER ACADEMY   IN-PERSON   APRIL 17TH – APRIL 20TH   9:00 a.m. – Noon   STEWART BEACH PAVILION   201 SEAWALL BLVD, GALVESTON TX If you are interested in attending, please email Angie @ gibpadmin@galvestonparkboard.org    

Easter Weekend and WW Academy

Well, if anyone was in doubt the beach season is definitely here! Good Friday! The water hit the mid 70’s this week and it’s suddenly full of fish. If you’re planning to go out in the Easter Weekend madness, please swim near a lifeguarded tower and stay far away from those rock jetties and piers. […]

Spring Break Wrap Up

Spring Break started with a bang and ended with a whimper. That first weekend was scary from our perspective! Massive crowds, lots of current and waves, warm air and water, and sparse lifeguard coverage kept us moving fast, as we raced from hot spot to hot spot to keep people away from the rip currents […]

Rips and Rescues

Lt Austin Kirwin drove down the seawall taking quick looks at the swimmers in the water as he wove his way through traffic. The whole staff was on edge with the unfortunate rip current related drowning fatalities of the twins out of Houston. Suddenly he saw something off of Murdochs that didn’t look right. Erratic […]

On The Beach

I guess with the water hitting the 70’s while still in February, any lingering doubts about the validity of global warming have literally melted away. With the warm weather came the crowds in all their diverse glory. Any kind of person you can imagine seems to end up on our beaches. Being within striking range […]

Academy is coming…

The group of young men and women radiated nervousness as they lined up on the sand. “On your mark, get set, GO!” shouted the instructor as they raced down the beach around the tower and into the water. I was about half way out to the buoy when a group of good swimmers caught me […]

Drones Revisited

A few years ago, some footage of what was reported to be the first real water rescue made by a drone at Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia went viral. To me it looked staged. There were two swimmers just outside the surf line kind of floating around. The footage was from the drone itself […]

SCENARIOS

Last Wednesday was rainy and overcast before the front came in. There was some sea fog, but not to the point that it severely limited visibility. Lt. Kirwin and Sgt. Buck slipped down to the water and set a mannequin in the water. Buck donned a wetsuit, booties, and gloves and swam out. Supervisors Lucero […]

Happy Black History Month! Galveston has so many layers of history. I mentioned awhile back that we’ve pulled together a committee that has been working on some really cool stuff related to African American beach use in Galveston and the history of the African American beach lifeguards that protected it, chaired by David Mitchell. David […]

Kayak Death and Preparation

Settegast road has a nice little kayak launch at the end of it. You can launch right into Eckert Bayou and paddle straight into West Bay, which separates Galveston from the mainland. The man launched from the Settegast ramp at 6am and paddled through the 60-degree water into a really strong, cold wind from the […]

Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything happens for a reason. Things can go wrong pretty quickly in the ocean. After working in and around this environment for years we can, at times, become too comfortable and forget how little it takes to be overwhelmed. Arrogance is a real danger. I try once a year to put myself in a place […]

Rescue Theory – Part 3 (conclusion)

The last two weeks we talked about the basics of rescue theory and how we use techniques to make as many parts of a rescue become automatic as we can. The key components of elimination of distracting variables are level of fitness, skills, equipment preparation, and state of readiness. That gives the guards the tools, […]

Rescue Theory – Part 2

Last week we talked about the basics of rescue theory and how we use techniques to make as many parts of a rescue become automatic as we can. The key components of elimination of distracting variables are level of fitness, skills, equipment preparation, and state of readiness. Level of fitness involves a great deal of […]

Rescue Theory – Part 1

A swimmer’s head sits low in the water and his arms flap out to the sides while trying to keep his head up. The lifeguard sees the telltale signs of a swimmer in distress. She immediately kicks into a whole pre-determined plan as she radios for backup, grabs her fins and rescue tube, chooses the […]

4 Things To Be Grateful For

Happy Holidays! We’re suddenly at the end of a tough year with increased tourists, warming climate, and ever-increasing crew  reduces patrols to one vehicle a day for a couple of months and turns attention to rebuilding lifeguard towers, working on administrative duties, responding to occasional emergencies, and completing special projects, there is time to reflect. […]

Message In A Bottle

Detective Kris Pompa works for the Galveston Police Department, but years back worked as a Beach Patrol Officer/Supervisor. One day, as he was patrolling the beach in front of the condos on the east end when he spotted something unusual on the shoreline. The aquamarine blue colored bottle glinted in the sun as he stopped […]

African American Lifeguard Monument Committee

After a full day, I climbed down a metal ladder from a flat, wooden platform with a thatched roof at 28th. It was a community beach back in ’84, and I knew most of the beach patrons by sight, if not by name. At that time, it was also still mostly an African American beach, […]

Winter Precautions

There have been a few wake-up calls in the news about people who didn’t take proper precautions before heading out into the water.  Our year-round staff has been busy while patrolling keeping people away from rip currents near the groins and responding to a myriad of beach emergencies. Hopefully the water will stay cold enough […]

Triple Rescue

Recently, two young men and a woman were making an Uber Eats delivery to Galveston and decided to go to the beach. Walking down to the sand at 26th, they saw a ton of surfers and several people out swimming in the warm water. They decided to hit the water. As they got out to […]

G-Town Surfing

People who don’t surf often have a misconception that there’s not very good surf in Galveston. And it’s true that on many days if you drive down the seawall and look out to the Gulf there’s not much in the way of waves. But if you know a few tricks and secret spots, there’s more […]

GIBP HQ Update

Thirty-nine years ago, as a second-year lifeguard, I watched the current pavilion at Stewart Beach being built. Now we are inside a space that was once a night club, and barely serves our ever-growing operations. The building is almost a decade past its intended lifespan. We’ve thoughtfully considered relocation, but the most cost-effective option is […]

Moving Into Winter

As the season changes, we shift to winter mode. “Winter mode” isn’t what it used to be, when we would pull everyone off the beach for maintenance and administrative work. Today, we have more patrol responsibilities with increased water and beach visitation and have more professional trainings and certifications to maintain. The first priority is, […]

Drones

Drones have become commonplace over the past few years and are being integrated increasingly   into public safety. It is, however, hard to separate fact from fiction in a world where a YouTube video can go viral and become “fact” simply because there are so many people that see it and it takes on critical mass. […]

Off Shore Winds

If there’s one thing lifeguards hate on an offshore wind day is an emergency where a person is being blown out to sea. When the wind blows offshore, it creates a unique set of circumstances that can be lethal. This is mostly a danger during the spring and fall when repeated frontal systems pass across […]

Drowning, Rescue, and Beach Event

Last weekend was the end of tower guarding for the season. A few towers covered with the seasonal lifeguards able and willing to give up their weekend between school or another job and work the beaches. But even with that help and our trucks patrolling up and down the beachfront, we had a drowning of […]

Fall Coverage

October is my favorite month on the beach. As usual, we’ve been experiencing some amazing beach weather. A number of people have been out enjoying Galveston’s 33 miles of beach on the weekdays in small groups or solo and weekends will still be crowded for a couple of months. Our staff has remained focused, moving […]

Umbrellagedon

I followed my routine of getting up early, driving the entire beachfront, then if things seem calm, meeting whoever is interested for a workout before the beach action heats up. Getting that exercise in first thing helps to maintain balance, perspective, and focus when things get a little crazy later in the day. Little did […]

Ike Anniversary

We heard a lot about Hurricane Harvey, but September 13, the anniversary of Hurricane Ike, came and went without much fanfare. I still remember how the water felt as I slogged down 16th street heading into the biting wind. How the grit had gotten in my water shoes and how saturated my skin felt after […]

Non Compliance Strategies

“Good Morning. Sir, do you mind removing your vehicle from the beachfront and parking it in the parking lot?” “Why?” “Cars aren’t allowed on the beachfront in this area for safety reasons.” “That’s ridiculous.” “There’s a sign at the entrance you drove through that says no vehicles allowed past this point. There is also a […]

9-4-22   Lifeguard Family, We’ve received word that some of our Junior Lifeguards members were victims in the tragic car accident that occurred in front of Ball High School last Friday night. Many of the friends and families are receiving support through our partners in the County Critical Incident Management Team. Please keep a close […]

Labor Day Advice

A big part of what makes America such an incredible place is all the work of the American labor movement and the work and contributions of so many laborers to the development and achievements of our country. Many Americans have a tradition of celebrating the special holiday that honors that by spending time with loved […]

Interrelated Systems

More and more I appreciate all the people that collaborate to make miracles happen in our beachfront spheres. Last Saturday the annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sandcastle Competition went about as well as anything could go during an event of 11,000 people and 3,700 parked cars on one beach. The logistics supporting all the […]

Competition Results

From Supervisor Jeff Mullin, Team Captain for the team that recently competed in the United States Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Competition, to staff of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol: “Good afternoon, folks! Team Galveston is back from USLA Nationals and boy did the squad bring back some serious hardware and results! To start, our very […]

National Championships

The early morning light glimmered across the water, bathing the line of figures in a coppery glow. Each of them carried a narrow, sleek racing board under their arm. They were coiled and vibrating, until the whistle blew. In a blur, they exploded as they raced out into the water. First, they high stepped until […]

Leadership Fridays

Sergeant Andy Moffett and Senior Lifeguard Gheffri Preciado stood in front of the room surveying the small groups of four or five that were having animated discussions as David Mitchel and Iris Guerrero sat off to the side watching intensely. David is our Ecumenical Support and Volunteer Coordinator specialist, and Iris is part of our […]

Currents and Bottom Memory

If you’ve been on the beach anytime in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve had day after day of wind running parallel down the beach. And then, occasionally, we’ve had extreme conditions over the weekend. This does some pretty interesting things to the bottom, which affect the safety of people that […]

Grass Fire Drama

The grass fire flames rose higher, radiating fierce heat to anyone within 40 yards. Smoke billowed across the road to where you couldn’t even see the other side. Two figures tangoed around each other, one very large, the other only up to his chin. A car sizzled, engulfed in the flames, and explosions punctuated the […]

Rescue Tube Prep

Young men and women stand in a circle on the shoreline. Sandy and sweating, they’ve just finished a surf swim, followed by calisthenics. Each one holds onto their rescue tube awkwardly; a stark contrast with the seasoned confidence that working lifeguards exude. Today is the first day of the lifeguard academy. The training officer for […]

LIFEGUARD TRYOUTS!!!

We are having 2 more Lifeguard tryouts.  Please see below for more information.   July 20th, 2022 9:00 a.m. UTMB Field House Pool Galveston, TX 77550   August 3rd, 2022 9:00 a.m. UTMB Field House Pool Galveston, TX 77550   Please visit  https://lsn5h43fna.wpdns.site/lifeguard/becoming-a-lifeguard-2-2/    for more requirements.  

4th Wrap Up

The early morning yellow light angled sideways highlighting a young mother and her two young children giggling and laying in the shallows. A lifeguard raced across the slippery rocks as another dove into the water, both racing to stop a group of teens from getting sucked out by a rip current. A jacked-up pickup spun […]

HAPPY HOLIDAY!

REMINDER: Always swim near a lifeguard: Lifeguards work continually to identify hazards that might affect you. They can advise you on the safest place to swim, as well as places to avoid. They receive many hours of continuous training and most have been with Galveston Island Beach Patrol for several years.  They want you to […]

4th of July Tips

We’re here! The big Fourth of July weekend. It’s hard to believe how fast summer flies, especially when it’s as busy as it is here in Galveston. This summer has already been intense with tons of people and very rough water. The storm system is clearing out just in time for a gorgeous weekend. The […]

Sicilio Adventures

Supervisor Matt Sicilio was patrolling the stretch between Stewart and East Beach last weekend when he was dispatched to check on a woman with burns on her feet. When he arrived, he realized that she had serious burns on her foot soles because her shoes had come off in the middle of some deep, dry […]

Opening Lifesaving Minds

The crew has been holding up well, although they’re taking a beating.  Brutal heat and persistent west wind make for hot, gritty conditions that are an assault on the senses, particularly for guards who are working long shifts in the towers day after day. Guards in trucks and towers are moving thousands of swimmers away […]

Memorial Wrap Up

Somehow it all came together for Memorial Day Weekend. The beach cleaning crews worked through the night to ensure the beaches were free of trash left from the day before. By first light, the beaches looked amazing. We finished the last part of the new lifeguard training Friday night and the rookie lifeguards hit the […]

Sand Entrapment

We raced to the hole in the sand to see a partially buried figure. Grabbing plastic buckets, we all dug like crazy as others sprinted to pull backboards off the trucks. Every time we’d scoop sand out, more would fall in. We barely held it back, even when the boards were placed strategically around the […]

MEMORIAL WEEKEND SAFETY!

Training, preparation of equipment, and all the little maneuverings needed to get this big bird off the ground are complete. All hands will be on deck and all 34 of our towers will be covered, all vehicles will be patrolling, and our 11 new candidates are graduated and ready to go. This weekend we will […]

Close Call

Lifeguard Rafael Diaz was working the early shift at tower 59 when he noticed a large school group pull up in two busses over by the 53rd Street groin. It wasn’t his area, but the guard for 53 wasn’t due to arrive for a few minutes more. Diaz, being a very proactive guard, noticed a big group […]

San Luis Pass Drowning

It was that time that isn’t really day, and it really isn’t night. Breezy with pink tinged clouds scudding across the sky as the horizon changes from pink to purple to a faded blue. The water was a little choppy, but not rough with the wind blowing off the beach into the channel rippling water […]

Beach Patrol and What’s Coming Up

This Sunday, May 1st, we are expecting 70 or so lifeguard candidates to show up for lifeguard tryouts. The following Saturday we’ll have another tryout and academy as well. We need them all! I thought it would be fun to walk you through a sample of a summer day with us to illustrate all the […]

How would you like to be an open water Lifeguard?

NEW LIFEGUARD TRYOUT DATE! May 1st @ 9:00 a.m. Location: UTMB Field House (swimming pool) 301 Holiday Drive Galveston, TX 77550 Must swim 500m in 10 minutes or less. Bring your physical signed by your doctor, and one of the following: Drivers License, ID, Passport, Birth Certificate, School Report Card and additional I-9 acceptable documents.  […]

Wave Watcher Academy

A group of people stood near the end of the rock groin at 37th street. They took turns removing the ring buoy and attached throw bag from the rescue box and throwing it to an imaginary victim in the water. The ring should be tossed over the head of the victim and gently pulled back […]

Clean Beaches

It takes a village to keep our beaches clean. As Chief of Beach Patrol, I often write this column about our dedicated lifeguards and the volunteers in the Wave Watches and Survivor Support Network, Junior Lifeguards, and community groups that save lives, protect the beach, and raise awareness about water safety. This week, I was […]

GIBP Headquarter Crisis

39 years ago, I stood in the sand with 16 other lifeguards as radios were issued from our “Headquarters.” I studied the old run-down trailer parked outside a small beach pavilion on the sand and thought, “This is the Headquarters?” In 1983, Hurricane Alicia wiped all that away. The following season, we moved into a […]

Spring Break and Tri

Here we go! Another beautiful, busy weekend has passed. With no seaweed, perfect water and air temperature, and large well-behaved crowds, it’s no wonder our property values have risen so much! Technically, that should be the last big one of spring break, but I have a feeling that if the weather holds, we’ll be looking […]

Warm It Up

Finally! Spring feels like it’s just around the corner. After the long, long winter there’s finally that feeling in the air. The cold is still there but doesn’t seem to penetrate all the way to your bones, and even if it’s cold in the morning you’re able to get by with a thin layer or […]

Lucero-Walker Rescue

Supervisors Joey Walker and Michael Lucero were working hard patrolling The Seawall last Saturday at 1:20pm when Lucero noticed something unusual in a rip current as they passed the area of 56th street, about midway between the two rock groynes. It was a beautiful day with packed beaches. It was a week from Spring Break […]

Wave Watchers

Spring Break and lifeguard tryouts are just a week away! Our full-time crew has been tying up all kinds of loose ends to get ready for the big kickoff of the 2022 beach season. They’ve been working hard to get ready for you! Finishing up getting all 600 beach signs we maintain in working order, […]

Academy and Spring Break Prep

A group of men and women hold onto the pool wall, each in their respective lanes. Some are visibly nervous and already breathing hard. Others are taking deep controlled breaths and look calm, at least on the outside. “Swimmers take your mark. Go!” We are on the precipice. In just two weeks we will hold […]

Training

Happy Mardi Gras! When this big annual party rolls around that is a signal for us that beach season is just around the corner. This year, because of increased tourism and great weather, it feels like we never really left. These intermittent cold snaps are the only time the beaches don’t have people on them. […]

Survivor Support Network

With the sun beating down and recovery operation terminated, I scanned the searchers to make sure everyone was OK. I then turned to see, with relief, that a tent had been erected and a family was seated comfortably drinking water and talking to a Jesse Tree councilor who had just arrived following a tragic drowning… […]

Flags

We’re just over a month away from beach season, believe it or not. Soon we’ll be putting out all kinds of information about how to stay safe when visiting the beaches. One area that’s important to refamiliarize yourself with is our Flag Warning System (FWS). The FSW advises beach patrons of the current water conditions […]

Dolphins

For the past couple of years, the idea that we are communal animals has become more and more evident. The pandemic has really shown us how important it is for us to interact in groups. Even the most reclusive person needs that human contact that is such an important part of our essential being. That […]

Coastal Zone Management

The world is asleep. At 4am the sanitation truck pulls out of the Park Board Coastal Zone Department lot and hits the beachfront, working by headlights along an empty beach. By the time the traffic starts getting heavy they’re usually gone. At 6 the beach crews head up to the beachfront to hand pick the […]

New Boat

As the sun touches the horizon, a stiff wind pushes spray off the peaks, causing them to take on a copper tone. A lone jet ski churns through the choppy water searching for a missing swimmer, as we attempt to locate what may be a missing swimmer, pelican, piece of wood, or a float being […]

Australia and Surf Clubs

Australia is Mecca for Surf Lifeguards. Lifesaving in Australia started around the same time as it did in the rest of the developed world. The old system of “Lifesaver Men” who stayed for weeks at a time in lighthouses looking for ships that wrecked along the shoreline began to transition to modern lifesaving with the […]

One Beach One Lifeguard

The small 5-year-old, brown skinned, dark haired girl played in the sand with her little sister on the beach. Their fully clothed mother and grandmother laid out a tablecloth and set the china place settings out with well practiced movements. It was a summer day in 1943 at the beach by Murdoch’s Bathhouse. Barbara, the […]

Bikes and Training

Whether you’re hunkering down with the groceries you bought before the crowds descended or out in the mix reveling in one of the largest events of this type anywhere, its hard not to notice its Biker Rally Weekend. I personally am a fan despite the inconvenience when moving around. I grew up riding as a […]

Cooling Down

Traditionally, we always look at Halloween as the point where the water is too cold to see much activity. That has gone out the window with so much else, but it is a marker that things are starting to cool down. When the seasons change, it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach […]

Cooling Down

Traditionally, we always look at Halloween as the point where the water is too cold to see much activity. That has gone out the window with so much else, but it is a marker that things are starting to cool down. When the seasons change, it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach […]

Surf Roots

At 10 my friend David Schutz and I bought surfboards. I think our moms were sick of us riding homemade skim boards in the ditch and both of us coming in for dinner covered in oozy abrasions. Mine was a smashed up 5’11” yellowed Dale Dobson and his was a 6’1” green Petrillo. Beautiful. It […]

Perfect Storm & Non Fatal Drowning

Sergeant Andy Moffett and Supervisor Michael Lucero were powering up and down the seawall last Sunday moving swimmer after swimmer away from the rocks. The wind was howling, water was rough, there were strong lateral currents pulling people to the rocks, and the rip currents were really strong. On top of all that the beach […]

October is the best month of the year in Galveston for the beach. If the weather was porridge in a Goldilocks story, we’d be the third bowl. Water is still nice and warm, but the air has cooled off just a bit, so you almost hate walking into a building and not spending every available […]

Preventative Actions

For us, the big measure of how much work we do is “preventative actions”. This captures a range of activities anywhere from jumping off the rocks and swimming next to someone in a rip current around the head of the groin to a blanket announcement on a loudspeaker telling people to clear the water because […]

Whale

The small whale thrashed on the shoreline as a representatives of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network tried to get in close to help it out by getting a line to administer medication with. By “small” I mean maybe 10-11 foot, so it was really dangerous for them to get close enough to help. This particular […]

Storm Response

Coming off the Labor Day weekend we all jumped straight into a hurricane. If we needed a reminder that Mother Nature is completely random and impartial with respect to our needs and wants, we’ve just gotten yet another one. I’m impressed with how quickly we bounce back. Things were opening the very next day and […]

Labord Day and kids with a bucket

“Mr. Lifeguard, Mr. Lifeguard look what we caught!” I turned around to see three cute kids running at me with a pail of water that was sloshing over the side. Dad followed them shrugging and smiling sheepishly as if to say, “Its out of my hands”. Looking into the bucket I saw a mass of […]

Labor Day Prep

We had a very near miss with Hurricane Ida. Remember, as tired as we all are of all kinds of stressors, we’re still only in the middle of storm season. Maintain vigilance and stay tuned to advice from our local experts. Especially be sure you have your plan together and everything is in order for […]

Heat

The knock on the door in the late afternoon wasn’t a surprise. Nor was the woman in her 70’s who was dizzy, a little disoriented, and sweating. Our Headquarters doubles as a first aid station for beach patrons, so its not unusual for people to show up with all kinds of medical emergencies including heat […]

Drowning at 61st

Last Tuesday morning a man got to the beach at 61st early, walked around a bit, left his things just east of the pier, and went into the water. The time that elapsed at that point is unclear, but when the lifeguard arrived on location, all he saw was calm, clear, water with a tiny […]

Lightning Policy

WHACK! I didn’t remember seeing a flash or hearing thunder, but my ears were ringing. I looked around and it felt like I’d just woken up. My heart was beating pretty quickly, and my hands were shaking, but I didn’t know why. Suddenly, I noticed a volleyball court pole about 15 yards away was split […]

Tommy Leigh

      I noticed, as if from a distance, that my hands trembled slightly as I fitted the airway device into the man’s mouth. Once it was in, I repositioned the head, tilting it slightly back, and tried again to get oxygen into the lungs. This time the chest rose. As my partner did […]

Disco Dog Party

Some of you may remember the gas rig that was the closest platform off the beach back in the 80’s and 90’s. Before they took it down, in a wilder era, Beach Patrol made good use of both that and the old light house on the end of the south jetty. I had a Hawaiian […]

SHARKS

Nat Geo ran a documentary story this week about sharks and played an interview I did with them a while back. Whenever Shark Week rolls around people start seeing things in our water  and reporting them. They’re almost always a dolphin’s pectoral fin since you really wouldn’t spot a shark from the shoreline very often, […]

Charlotte Blacketer Rescue

A man entered the water with his son and two daughters around 13th street in the afternoon over the 4th of July weekend. It was a beautiful day with small, clean waves and green water. The beach was crowded. The kids ranged from a very young daughter to a teenager. The little girl was in […]

Pre 4th of July

Hard to believe we’re to the 4th of July. Weather permitting, this could be a massive event, seeing as each weekend since the beach season started seems like a holiday weekend in both the best and worst of ways. Galveston needed our tourists back, and the hotel occupancy rates are just one of several indicators […]

LIFEGUARD TRYOUTS

LIFEGUARD TRYOUTS: July 6th at 7:00 AM UTMB Pool House 301 Holiday Dr. Galveston, TX 77550 Check back here or call us for updates the day before tryouts.  Swim location may be subject to changes. DO NOT BE LATE FOR THE SWIM!  IT WILL START RIGHT AT 7AM!

Critters, etc.

Summer beach conditions are definitely here. Summer water means more critters. Fish, stingrays, and all other types of animals move closer to the shoreline. Most times we manage to avoid mishap when visiting the beach.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t ever hurt to take a few precautions and take responsibility for your own safety. Shuffle your feet […]

The Madness

It’s hard to keep up. Summer hit hard. Crowds come early for the weekend and stay late. Friday and Monday look like weekend days and on Saturday and Sunday all 33 miles of beach are blanketed with people. Police, Fire, EMS, and Beach Patrol have all been scrambling to stay on top of all the […]

Busy Summer Time

Wow! Hard to believe how fast summer is moving. As I write this, I’m just back in from responding to an impressive 3 person rescue by Captain Pryor and Lifeguard Martinez at 39th street. Looks like one of two kids may have stepped off a sandbar into deeper water and his dad and sister tried […]

Memorial Weekend Wrap Up

The little girl sat in the sand with her plastic bucket and shovel. She was completely absorbed in her mission of shoveling sand into the bucket, pouring it back onto the ground, then repeating the process. Stewart Beach was packed. From a distance it looked like living, multicolored moss covered it completely. The girl had […]

Memorial Weekend Safety

All the preparation is done. The equipment is ready, the planning is over, and the time for preparation transitions to the time for action. We are a little light on new guards, but enough dedicated experienced guards are coming back and working the holiday. All 32 of our towers will be covered, all vehicles will […]

Rock Training

Gray overcast sky with dark clouds scudding overhead. The howling wind whipped the beach water into a frothy, choppy maelstrom punctuated with white caps. Waves broke over the barnacle and algae covered rocks. A group picked their way gingerly across the higher rocks, which were only covered in white, foamy water intermittently. One person, older […]

Mothers Day Wrap Up

Two boys drifted towards the rocks in the longshore current. Once they got to the point of the longshore current, which pushed from West to East, met the rip current, which pulled out towards the end of the groin, there was no going back. They couldn’t swim to shore or against the longshore current. They […]

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol Annual BBQ Fundraiser

Unfortunately, we have to postpone our Annual BBQ Fundraiser until June 2022. Thank you for your continued support and we will see you next year!

Rookies Needed!

One week from tomorrow, on May 15th at 7am we will be holding lifeguard tryouts at the UTMB Fieldhouse. Info is on our website. After the swim, drug test, and orientation, we will launch straight into almost 100 hours of training in 9 days. We are all holding our breath hoping that recruiting efforts pay […]

Rescue

A 5-year-old boy got caught in a rip current on the East side of 29th Street last Saturday and was pulled out to the end of the groin. There was no lifeguard on duty to stop him before he got into trouble and move him farther from the rocks and closer to shore. He began […]

Wave Watchers Graduation

This weekend should be an interesting one. We’ve got with some real high tides and very strong onshore winds predicted for tonight. Then tomorrow a nice day is scheduled for both the normal large beach crowds we’ve been seeing plus the Slow, Low, and Bangin’ (S.L.A.B.) event that is supposed to happen. Those who work […]

Assumptions

The last weekend was a big one. Water and air in the 70’s and nice weather meant tons of people in the water. The entire island seemed pretty full, and the beaches were packed. Traffic was an issue on the seawall most of the weekend, making it hard for emergency response personnel to move around. […]

Easter Wrap Up

A young boy and girl lay on a small sand dune. They were 3-4 years old and looked to be brother and sister. Although the day was not hot, the sand was nice and warm once the sun peeked out. They jabbered at each other while they piled the sand up and rolled around. A […]

OTB: Pre-Easter

The Easter holiday has been a big beach day for many years but has grown to be one of our major holidays. The seawall, beach parks, and west end have been packed on this weekend in recent history. For many people, particularly for families, going to the beach on Easter Weekend is a tradition. For […]

OTB – Wave Watchers

The Beach Patrol has been fortunate for many, many years to have great support from the community and county. We are so lucky that the hard work our guards do is recognized and appreciated and we recognize that this is something we continually need to strive to maintain. That’s a big part of why we […]

OTB – Beach Safety Information

There’s nothing better than Galveston beaches for getting toes in the sand, sun on the face, and your daily dose of salt! We’re here to help you do it safely. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol www.galvestonislandbeachpatrol.com  is certified as an “advanced” level agency of the United States Lifesaving Association www.usla.org , and is the designated […]

OTB – Spring Break Kickoff

Tomorrow morning at 7am we will be holding the first lifeguard tryout of the season. If you know anyone who is interested in taking on the tough but rewarding job of joining the team that protects over 7 million people that visit our beaches annually, tell them to meet us at the UTMB Field House […]

OTB – Spring Break and SSN

Looks like all signs point to yet another big Spring Break! Seems like one day its winter and the next the sun’s out, the water’s warm, and the beaches are packed. Despite the fact that we’ve just been through an ice storm and are a year into the Covid pandemic, we all need to gear […]

OTB – Season Starting

The beach water temperature dropped down to 45 degrees during the ice storm. And two weeks from now we’ll be starting the main week of spring break. Must be Texas. We’ll be holding lifeguard tryouts that weekend as well on Saturday, March 13th, at 7am at UTMB Pool House, 301 Holiday Dr. Anyone interested can […]

OTB: African American Lifeguard Heroes!

Last week’s column was an overview of our local lifeguarding history that left off with the time that African American beaches were designated by law and by Galveston’s dominant culture of the time. To talk about this part of our collective beach history I have to lean on someone who knows much more about this […]

OTB: African American Beaches

Seeing two heads near the rocks on the west side of the groin at 27th, I flipped on the overheads, pulled a U turn, radioed for backup, parked, grabbed fins and a rescue tube, and sprinted towards the beach. Subtleties in the way the heads moved, the location they were in the rip current, and […]

OTB – Gtown Lifesaving up till 50’s

We’ve got about a month before lifeguard tryouts. Spread the word to anyone interested and tell them to start swimming and check our website for details! We’re going to need a lot of new guards to address the increased beach use that’s been trending. With just a few weeks left before the beach kicks into […]

OTB Fog

Warm air and cold water these days. Spring weather. This combination brings in one of the best and worst phenomena along the beachfront. Sea fog. It can be totally clear, and a big bank of fog can roll in unexpectedly. And since the whole coastal plains area is full of water, this fog can extend […]

OTB Winter Conditions

Now that winter is fully here water activities take on a new dimension. Whether you’re out there surfing, kite boarding, swimming, kayaking, fishing, or any number of other activities there is a greater possibility that a small over site could turn into a major emergency. Hypothermia, or reduced body temperature, is the major threat. Once […]

Cold Winter Months

Cold water is no joke. But lifeguards have to respond regardless of the conditions, so we train in and for cold water rescues. Even when we’re building towers, working on signage, or even working in the office we have to be ready at a moment’s notice to enter the water, potentially for prolonged periods, if […]

January 6th

It’s difficult to write about anything not related to the unbelievable tragedy that befell our country on January 6th. It’s hard to think about anything else. Not just because I’ve been a peace officer for almost a quarter of a century, or a first responder for close to four decades. But as a citizen, as […]

Happy New Year!

We have worked for many years with the lifeguards in our sister city of Veracruz, Mexico. After awhile I grew to love not only the city and people, but the entire coastline. When my wife and I had our little girl, we drove down there for the course, stayed a few extra days, then toured […]

Happy Holidays

A line of 10and 11 year old kids waited, twitching. Their hands tight on the handles of rescue boards. “Go!” yelled the instructor. They carried the boards to the water, laid the boards down, and pushed them until they got about waist deep. Then they jumped on top and started paddling. Once they got up […]

Waves

It was a bad idea. Archie Kalepa led the group as we swam towards the cliff face. Archie is the former Chief of Lifeguards in Maui, world renowned big wave surfer and Hawaiian living legend. The problem with being Archie’s friend is that he is a giving soul and is real comfortable in big water. […]

Sharks

Nat Geo was in town this week to talk sharks and along with a couple of people who were bitten back in 2004, interviewed me about beach dangers. Back then we had three documented shark bites in one summer. Our average comes to about a bite every two years. Like anything that doesn’t mean a […]

San Diego

The last two columns targeted the history of the lifeguard service of Galveston, which dates all the way back to 1875. Galveston and the Houston area have grown significantly in the years since then, and we’ve all had to adapt as a community, including the Beach Patrol. We now see over 7 million visitors annually […]

Galveston Island Beach Patrol History

In the 1800s, Galveston Island was one of the largest cities in Texas and one of the more important ones in the country. Much of this was due to it being a great natural port for the shallow draft boats of the time. Before that time, the United States Life Saving Service was created in […]

Lifesaver

A lone figure wound his way down the shoreline through the dark night. He picked his way carefully along the uneven surface using a lantern to see. The night was cold and windy as a mix of sleet and rain caused him to readjust his woolen coat. There was no ambient light, and he passed […]

Shoulder Season

Driving down the seawall last Monday, I spotted a couple of people right next to the rocks towards the end of the 53rd street rock groin. They were right in the dangerous area. Thinking I only had seconds, I flipped on the overheads and made a U turn. Once I was off the wall and […]

Respect The Water

The young scanned the pool frantically and couldn’t see her toddler anywhere, until she heard the other adults gasp and point up to the high dive. Her son crawled up the ladder, out on the board, and jumped off. He sank directly to the bottom of the deep end. Using superhuman mom power, she beat […]

Drownings

We’ve had three drowning fatalities in the past two weeks. For us, it’s hard not to think, or in this case write, about anything else. The first one was eerily familiar. Many of you recall that last year, just a few days after our seasonal lifeguards ended their 7-month term of employment, two kids died […]

Seasonal Guards

The first weekend after the clock ran out on our Seasonal Lifeguard coverage was something else. As we say people were “all down up in that beach”. They were in the water, on the sand, driving around in golf carts, trying to swim in the no swimming areas by the rocks and at the ends […]

Support

I’ve been working on a really interesting side project for awhile now. For 20 years, on behalf of the United States Lifesaving Association, I’ve been part of a national task force between the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On the NOAA end, its specifically the National Weather […]

Drowning

This is the last weekend we’ll be working lifeguards in towers for the season, after which time we’ll pull the towers off the beach for refurbishment. We are held to a 7-month timeframe for the seasonal lifeguard and park staff and, since the season starts in March with Spring Break, we’re at the end of […]

Impermanence

Yet another reminder that all the things we want to be constant slip away, and we are in a constantly changing reality. Even this smallish tropical storm drastically changed the beach. On the beach you are more acutely aware of the vulnerability of our existence and the need to constantly adapt to new realities. It’s […]

Teenager Days

When I was 11 or so, I started at a new school and met Kevin, Jack, and Steve, who had foam boards, bikes, and were already surfing. The four of us lived in the same area and started riding to the beach whenever there were waves. We got wetsuits with beaver tails and were hooked. […]

Labor Day Weekend

Early afternoon last Sunday we got a 911 call of a boat running loose in English Bayou. Sergeant Austin Kirwin and Senior Lifeguard Daniel Gutierrez responded. On 61st they could see an unoccupied boat dragging a ski rope that was causing it to run in circles, as it gradually made its way east towards the […]

Labor Day Weekend Tips

Coming off a storm is interesting to say the least. We lost many, many signs along the beachfront and have been working to get them all back up as fast as we can. Our accounting department, staff, and local vendors have been incredibly helpful. And our guards who volunteer for the hard work of jetting […]

Emergency Plan

We really dodged a bullet this week. Unfortunately that’s not the case to many, many of our neighboring communities. Even though we didn’t take a direct hit, this is a clear message that occasionally our number comes up. The tough thing is that if you didn’t evacuate and nothing happened, it reinforces the idea that […]

Galveston Island Beach Patrol Statement Regarding Tropical Storm Laura

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Galveston, Texas – The beaches will have very dangerous conditions for the next few days. Beach Parks will be closed starting 08-25-20 and we will be flying red flags for the next few days. Please stay far from piers and jetties. Good swimmers who are adults shouldn’t go above the waist and everyone […]

Storm Season

Wading up to the wooden steps through the muddy water that smelled faintly of sewage, I laid my rescue board on the top of the porch and pounded on the front door. A woman came out and tried to hand me a mid-sized flat screened TV, followed by three kids all carrying pretty random objects […]

Staffing Difficulties

Staffing has been a real issue for us on the Beach Patrol for about three years now. At full strength, we run 135 Seasonal Lifeguards, in addition to the 15 full and part time employees we have. Our seasonal numbers have been more along the lines of 100-110. When we’re short handed we still do […]

Sooner or Later

Sitting in the middle of storm season brings all kinds of things to mind. Have you ever seen the pictures of the amazing structures that existed before the 1900 storm? Huge wooden beach pavilions that stretch into the water. Galveston was such a draw and such an important place at the time we neared the […]

A Dynamic Environment

If you’ve been on the beach anytime in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve had day after day of wind running parallel down the beach. And then, on top of that, we had extreme conditions over the weekend. This does some pretty interesting things to the bottom, which affect the safety […]

Lifeguard Bower Rescue

It was a rough, windy, morning. Clouds scudded across the sky pushed by a strong wind from the west. The water was brownish because of currents pushing up from the mouth of the clay colored Brazos river. The 8-year-old boy floated along on his boogie board. As he neared the 61st street rock groin, a […]

Mexico Trip

Almost 20 years ago Vic Maceo and I went to Veracruz, Mexico with a contingency from Galveston which included the city manager, Steve Leblanc, Gilbert Zamora, and others. Veracruz and Galveston had set up a sister city arrangement, so we went down for Carnival. They were excellent hosts, but we felt bad because it was […]

Holiday Weekend Wrap Up

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July Weekend, despite the weird thing of not being to celebrate it on the beach. Big news here is we’ll be having yet another lifeguard academy. Tryouts are Monday, July 13th, and info is on our website. We spent most of our weekend doing the unenviable task of […]

4th of July Safety Tips

Happy 4th of July Weekend! For lots this is all about grilling and chillin on the beach, and I’m sure even with the spike in Corona cases, we’ll still see plenty of people on the beach and elsewhere on the island. It’s hard to believe how fast summer flies by, especially when you’re busy. This […]

Captain

After Hurricane Ike there was a very clear psychological effect on the general population. Right afterwards there was this sort of heightened manic cheerfulness that slowly seemed to turn sour in a number of different ways. A psychologist friend told me that he felt like we were all suffering from group post-traumatic stress that was […]

Galveston is Booming

Summer, summer, summer… The water is now up in the 80s and crowds are above anyone’s expectations. Driving down the seawall on the afternoons makes you face the fact that Galveston is booming despite a pandemic. The beach is in full effect. The lifeguards are doing a great job and the new rookies are integrating […]

Busy Weekend

The storm swell arrived Saturday afternoon with some beautiful little ground-swell waves. A few surfers made it out to enjoy the conditions before it got dark. But by then the unusually large beach crowds we’ve been seeing merged with a very peaceful looking protest, and a large social media driven event. It was everything we […]

Busy Holiday Weekend

Two swimmers entered the water late in the evening at the San Luis Pass. A strong outgoing tidal flow had already carved a steep drop off. The falling tide was exacerbated by having to funnel through the gap between Galveston Island and Brazoria County. A friend of the two people called 911 and a call […]

Memorial Day Advice

It’s hard to believe that we’re already to Memorial Weekend! Looks like sunny skies for the most part, some surf and a bit windy, but overall, really nice weather. It’s a little bittersweet this year because this is usually the end of our “hell week” where we have a large mass casualty exercise, the “night […]

Together we can

Seems like during any type of crisis many of us struggle with filtering. Filtering information, increased need from others, and/or filtering the tasks that fill each day or the time each one takes. Some people have a vastly increased load and others are looking for ways to fill the day. I’m sure lots of you […]

Cinco De Corona

The 5-year-old girl was lost, although she didn’t know it. She had been playing in front of her parents and went a little deeper. A current pulled her parallel to shore as she played, bobbing with the flow. Suddenly, the sand bar she’d been standing on dropped off suddenly. She wasn’t able to swim, so […]

Family

I have a brother that lives in Bogota, Colombia.  He and his wife can’t go out together. And when they leave one at a time, they can only go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or doctor’s office. The police stop them and ask questions each time they leave. My brother is a runner, so he’s […]

We’ll get Through This Together

We really appreciate all the calls etc. about people who have not been following the beach ban order. We’re doing the best we can to stay on top of all of this. It’s been tough, especially on the West End. We have 4-6 vehicles a day on the beaches dedicated to just keeping them clear […]

Recover and Rebuild

Corona’s effects on our beach are both eerily familiar and completely foreign all at the same time. But Galveston, like the rest of the world’s beaches, has had a long history of disruptions. Reading accounts from the 1800’s there are times when the bay and parts of the beach water froze completely over. You could […]

Beach Closures

I want to hand it to my staff and the Galveston Police officers who are out there day after day keeping people off of the beaches. This is hard for everyone and they have not faltered or complained, even though they’re putting up with a lot. Right now the lifeguard trucks alone are moving a […]

Beach Closures

It’s amazing how quickly our lives change. Last week we were out enjoying some really nice beach moments as the Corona cloud started to close in. Suddenly the Mayor and City Manager made the difficult decision last Sunday to close the beaches. If you drove down the seawall last Sunday afternoon right before we stared […]

Beyond Coronavirus

It’s hard to think about anything but Corona right now. It’s all we hear about, and I feel like I just go from one meeting about Corona to another about the economic impact of Corona on the tourist industry. Then we worry about our budget which now relies 100% on hotel tax. But since I […]

Spring Break Updates

Spring Break has been interesting this year. So far, we’ve had quite a few people down on the island, but the weather has alternately been very near perfect or awful. Cold water and warm air have also resulted in quite a bit of sea fog, which makes guarding a real challenge. But every time the […]

Wash Your Hands!

It seems like the Corona virus has taken over our lives. Its already affected us at a pretty profound level even before most of us knows anyone that catches it. Even on the beach there is quite a lot of uncertainty, as we don’t really have a feel how schools being out or converting to […]

Spring Break!

Tomorrow, Saturday March 7 it all starts. We have lifeguard tryouts at 7am and will begin training the ones who pass immediately afterwards. Returning guards will do their swim test, drug screen, and rehire paperwork and many will head to the towers to start their first day of guarding of the season. And, of course, […]

Flag Conditions

We are only a week away from lifeguard tryouts and we’re hoping for a big turnout on Saturday the 7th of march. Info is on our website. We’re also right on beach season, so were pushing out public safety information to remind people to be safe. One area that’s important is our Flag Warning System. […]

Organizational Management Philosophy

I hope you are either avoiding the Mardi Gras festivities or diving into the fray, depending on your preference. For me, Mardi Gras marks the beginning of the tourist season and is the point where we switch from preparations to going into a more operational mode. Of course, this season has been so warm and […]

Full Time Staff Competition

High stepping into the frigid water we all chose different strategies. Some circled wide, choosing to run a little farther up the beach to account for a moderate lateral current. Others went straight in. Muffled sounds of discomfort were heard over the breaking surf as they hit the first trough and started a series of […]

Rude Dog

The motorcycle came careening across the sand of the packed beach. It almost fell, swerved barely missing a couple of small children playing in the sand, then overcompensated and barely missed an umbrella with a family under it. Rudy Betancourt, AKA “Rude Dog”, stepped up to the guy on the bike, who looked more than […]

Warmer Conditions

Comparing this winter to last, we’ve had much warmer conditions so far. It looks like we’re already to our early Spring pattern of repeated fronts coming through and we haven’t even had anything close to a freeze yet. The beach water barely dipped into the upper 50’s once and has mostly sat in the lower […]

Join the Family!

Even though it’s still winter we’ve got just over a month before Spring Break is here. The beach parks kick off on March 8th, but the beaches will be getting busy before that. Our full-time staff, between patrolling, answering emergency calls, and putting the finishing touches on our lifeguard towers, are already starting to do […]

Ship Channel Accident

This week we spend quite a bit of time on the water in the ship channel area helping the Coast Guard look for two people that were missing after a tragic boating. These types of searches often start out simply but end up going into all types of different worlds. When they happen, I’m always […]

Fisherman Rescue

Sometimes rescues are not as dramatic as they are interesting. A couple of days before Christmas we received a direct call from a local resident who was worried about his son right as the sun was setting. He called our main number which automatically rolls over to our “on call” phone when no one is […]

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Winter goes quickly in Galveston. Before you know it, the beaches will be filling up again and we’ll start the cycle all over again. We all make resolutions for the new year. We change our diet, commit to exercising more often, promise ourselves we’ll be more patient with difficult people or work […]

Winter Days

I love a lot of things about Galveston. These magic winter days where the rest of the country is freezing, and our beaches are full of people are a reminder of how good we have it in our little corner of the planet. This year has been especially beautiful. For us, this is a time […]

Rest in Peace Bob Burnside

“Bob you know you’re not supposed to smoke in this house!”, Annette said as she walked up and reached out to take his cigarette out of his hand. He pivoted in his chair, crazy blue eyes meeting her concerned look, and ever so slowly blew a cloud of smoke in her face without looking away. […]

Rip Currents

Over the past few years a pretty vibrant dialogue going on worldwide related to rip currents and how to best keep people safe around them has been taking place. As you all (hopefully) know, a rip current is a channel of water moving away from shore resulting from waves, current and bottom topography. In Galveston […]

Veracruz

Early morning sunlight slanted off of the water as two parallel columns of potential guards jogged through knee deep water at Playa del Muerto in Boca Del Rio, Mexico. Mixed with the bird calls, sounds of waves and a slight breeze, was the raspy panting sounds of the group’s efforts. Strain showed on the faces […]

What Goes Around Comes Around

A man I know from the beach is a regular on the east end. He trolls regularly with his metal detector and sometimes pulls up some pretty cool stuff. These guys love it when we get a strong north wind which blows the water way out, particularly at low tide. On these days they can […]

Winter Dangers

We’re in our typical crazy winter Galveston pattern of weather now, so there are some important things to be aware of when on the water. With recent water temps in the 60’s, getting out on the water requires more foresight and preparation than during warmer months. A quick dip in the water when you’re a […]

South Jetty Rescue of Four Boaters

The icy wind blasted across the rocks as the two wetsuit clad figures picked their way gingerly across the algae and barnacle covered surface in the darkness. No moon showed to help. Waves and spray threatened to wash them away. Dain Buck had a headlight and Kevin Anderson had a waterproof flashlight tucked under the […]

Beach Patrol Safety Precautions

Last week I talked about how we deploy each day and some of the nuances of how we operate. There are some underlying principals that we follow that are related, in that they dictate how we operate with regards to safety of our employees and/or the beach going public. These give a look behind the […]

Operations

Here’s how Beach Patrol operates on a normal day: 7:15AM- “A Shift” Supervisor truck calls in service. As they patrol, they put up the appropriate colored flags at the 5 seawall locations, post the flag color and any special advisories on the website, report the rip current threat level to the National Weather Service Houston/Galveston […]

Cold Front

Cold front after cold front have been rolling in. We are now in my favorite time of the year, with moderate temperatures, warm water, some surf, and variable conditions. But this comes with specific hazards. Changing winds can take people by surprise. On the beachfront a switch to offshore wind can blow you offshore. Once […]

Change Overtime

A group of 17 stood in the sand outside of a green and white trailer at Stewart Beach. Their feet were so dark they had a greenish tint against the white sand because they worked with minimal sun protection. Walkie talkies were issued as they joked around and made plans for after work. In 1983 […]

Pleasure Pier Rescue

Late in the day on Sunday, September 29th two young women entered the water underneath the Pleasure Pier. It was a very rough day with red flag warnings and rip current advisories, and the beach was crowded with thousands of swimmers in the water. This late in the year we didn’t have enough guards to […]

This Coming Year

We just finished the budget process for the Beach Patrol’s next year and I gave a short presentation on Beach Patrol in general, the coming year, and where we’re headed to our Board of Directors. I though selected parts of this might be of interest. I think it helps get the point across that we […]

Public Safety

Dropping off the seawall heading west on 3005 I spotted a man lying in the middle of the road. Two other guys were attempting to help him up and pull him to the side. There were a couple of cars parked all crazy on the side of the road. The man was bleeding on his […]

Jellyfish

Last week one morning I was training. I was alternating racing rescue board legs, running, and swim legs. This time of year, working out is just maintaining skills and staying in decent shape for winter lifeguarding, so I was coasting along on my second swim thinking about something else, when I felt something I haven’t […]

Open Water Swimming

As the rookie lifeguard ran out into the water, she felt good at first. She lifted her legs up high just as the instructor told her. When she got to thigh deep water, she started “dolphin diving” by pushing off the bottom and doing shallow surface dives, propelling herself into deeper water quickly. She even […]

Busy Labor Day Weekened

Labor Day weekend was interesting. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions, with sunny skies, blue/green water that was pretty flat all but Monday, and almost no seaweed, jellyfish, or sea lice. The concentration of people on Sunday was impressive with moderately good crowds on the other days. Sunday afternoon it took me an hour […]

Labor Day

With Labor Day upon us we’re expecting several hundred thousand people to be on the island this weekend. That’s a lot of chances to have something go wrong. We’ve had a number of close calls in recent weeks. Most or all of these incidents happened at least partly due to momentary lapses in judgment. People […]

Lost Friends

As we move through this life there are some people who really make a difference. People we feel privileged to walk in tandem with, at least for a time. The hard thing for me is the feeling of loss when that time ends. There are two people that I really respect and appreciate that I […]

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol Family

At our National Lifeguarding Championships in Virginia Beach I was suddenly hit with a moment of clarity that was close to a revelation. Just like is often the case here in Galveston, there were so many things going on all at once. We had athletes from the Junior Guard program, U19, open, and age group […]

Taekwondo

Front kick-punch-punch, roundhouse-punch-punch, punch-punch-hook, back leg high roundhouse, punch-punch-hook-uppercut, back leg roundhouse. Raspy breath … sweat in my eye blurs vision…. “Four!”, Rick yells. Oh man I have so many more of these… focus… focus…. Try to control breathing…. “Retract those kicks!”, yells Grand Master Robles from the other side of the room. I grunt […]

Hardworking Guards

Typically, the month of August sees some calm, hot weather. We’re now in the latter part of summer and things are still not dying down. We continue to have wind and current with some fairly strong rip currents near the rock groins. It has been calming down a bit and we’ve finally started seeing an […]

Lifeguard Sport Competitions

Years ago, the original inhabitants of this part of the world held periodic gatherings which included athletic competitions that highlighted skills needed to survive and thrive. These were opportunities to share information and new ideas, forge and maintain social connections, and renew commitment to a way of life. As open water lifeguards we continued that […]

Park Board Maintenance Department

Whether it’s a cold, rainy day in February or a steamy early morning in July early in the morning figures walk along the beach in front of a pickup’s lights. By 5am the west end crew of the Park Board Coastal Zone Management Department are already out handpicking trash left beachgoers or washed in with […]

San Luis Pass Rescue

Daniel Gutierrez and Cameron Larson eased the jet ski up to Bird Island, which sits in the bay very near the San Luis Pass cut. A couple of people were stranded on the island because their jet ski had been caught by a falling tide and was stuck on the island. They found out about […]

Have a Safe 4th of July!

Hard to believe we’re already to the 4th of July holiday! Summer is flying by. We’re fully staffed, as are the other emergency services. But with up to 500 thousand visitors on the island this weekend, make sure you think of us as an added layer of protection and take protective measures to ensure your […]

San Luis Pass Patrol

Halaen Betancourt was working our San Luis Pass Patrol last weekend and rolled up on a large group of adults and kids swimming in the ship channel. Most of them were in shallow water, with a few of them farther out. There was an area which was pretty shallow which was semi protected by an […]

Sunday Race Day

The sun was just peeking over a horizon and the rough, windblown surf showed pink highlights as we lined up. Legs vibrated and hands showed white knuckles on our racing boards as the call came out, “Paddlers take your mark…. GO!” The current swept from west to east, but I hedged my bets by lining […]

22nd Annual BBQ Fundraiser!

Party Time! The Galveston Island Beach Patrol will hold its 22nd Annual BBQ Fundraiser and Silent Auction today, Friday, June 14, 2019 from 6 pm – 10 pm on 24th Street between Church and Post Office. This location is in front of the Press Box restaurant and will be a lot of fun. BBQ dinner […]

Upcoming Events

There have been some crazy conditions lately. Water already hit 88 degrees, multiple high tide and rain events flooding the beaches, tons of rough days with really strong rip currents, and some completely flat still days. It’s hard to know what’s coming next. Our philosophy is that we just plan for every day to be […]