Thursday, March 18, 2010

"BIG DAYS Past", by Bruce Morgan, LACo O.L., Ret.


(SMN Tower #15, Modern Day, Feb. 2010; Per Bruce, imagine this area as jammed packed for the purposes of this article.)

We all have days we remember. April 13, 1980, I was at Tower #15 on Santa Monica North partnered with another recurrent, Greg Bonann, who later created and executed produced the BAYWATCH television series. Greg and I had just sat down to relax after many foot patrols when eight or more male beach patrons walked into the water with jeans on.


(SMN Tower #15, modern day, Feb. 2010. Beach patrons and swimmers out front of Tower #15, modern day.)

This jean attire was a dead give away
for drinking and other matters. Greg and I then briefly discussed the option of using the paddleboard or not with Greg communicating that with the beach crowd forming a thick wall of people, many rows deep, that the guard who commits to taking the board out on the sand has lost the big picture perspective. After considering this concern, I opted on the side of caution and I took our Tower #15 paddleboard out to advise all the clothed bathers to return to shore.

As I was paddling out, Greg saw each man sinking fast and made a call for back up and then headed for the water himself with his rescue can. I reached the victims and using the paddleboard I threw two victims, both drunk and aspirating, over the Big CON laco paddleboard, which in those days had a very good buoyancy factor. The CON was full with at least five victims hanging with the CON acting as, in effect, a "rescue island", while Greg and the back up guard approached. I then proceeded to swim to the last fool who I found only by his air bubbles. But one more appeared... yet a ninth victim, crying in the arms of a good samaritan-patron in deep water.

I gave this final and ninth victim my rescue can and just then Walley Reeves with Tom Pani gunned up the big engine of nearby Baywatch Santa Monica, which had been moored inside the north end of the adjacent Santa Monica Pier. Jimmy Makuta told me later by phone that I had prevented nine drownings. I also got a letter from the Captain, then called a Lieutenant, namely, Dan Culbert, asking me to work on schedule in his area, Santa Monica North.

After this late hour rescue that demanded such a strong response from LACo's vast lifeguard resources, Lt. Culbert drove down in his beach unit and observing more drunk bathers entering the water in our area just after the nine-victim rescue, and without any ceremony, put out a public announcement over his truck's PA system, and said: "Folks, its seven o'clock, we just stopped nine drownings, so just give us a break and go home !"

He then repeated this announcement and to my surprise people got up and left. Oh for the days when sensitivity and red tape were not issues.

Santa Monica Tower #15 is still a place I visit in dreams. But because I anticipated the next ten minute event - I don't let Tower #15 visit me in nightmares.

Regards,

Ocean Lifeguard, Bruce R Morgan, Retired


("BIG DAYS Past", by Bruce Morgan. Copyright Bruce Morgan 2010. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission. All photos used herein are courtesy of Will Maguire.)

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Many Thanks to Bruce for sharing this great rescue story which highlights the importance of paying attention to one's instincts, not to mention the vast lifesaving resources that our Department has to protect the public. For those readers who do not know Bruce, he was a LACo Recurrent for over 30 years and retired several years ago due to personal health issues. Otherwise, he would most certainly still be putting in more than his fair share of days at the beach. Always a beach lifeguard first, Bruce put in over 10,000 days at the beach. In tribute to his years of service, Bruce was awarded the "Bronze Savage" by LACOLA in Sept. 2008 at the Annual Meeting that fall in Venice, Calif. on the boardwalk.


(L2R: Art Verge, O.L.; Capt. Pat Jone, O.L.S; and Bruce Morgan, O.L., Ret.;
On the Evening of Bruce being awarded the coveted "Bronze Savage" Award by LACOLA for his many years of distinguished service, Sept. 2008.)

Until next time.....



"County Recurrent" News
http://CountyRecurrent.blogspot.com

Service • Training • Commitment

*** Keeping the County Recurrent "in the loop"..... whether he/she likes it or NOT ! ***

DISCLAIMER: County Recurrent is not affiliated with nor sponsored by LACOLA or LACoFD.

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4 comments:

touch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
William Maguire said...

From: Greg Bonann
Subject: Re: "BIG DAYS Past"
Date: March 19, 2010
To: Will Maguire

A FANTASTIC AND TRUE STORY... BUT, TRUTH BE TOLD, BRUCE WAS OVERWHELMINGLY THE HERO. AS I REMEMBER IT, WE WERE UP IN THE TOWER EXCHANGING "DREAMS"... HIS WAS A MOVIE HE WAS GOING TO MAKE ABOUT WWI AND MINE WAS A T.V. SHOW ABOUT LIFEGUARDS...

HE SAW WHAT WAS HAPPENING AND ANTICIPATED IT COMPLETELY AS IF IT WAS A SCRIPT PLAYING OUT IN HIS MIND... HE SPOKE WHILE HE PREPARED THE BOARD, TIED HIS TRUNKS, TOOK OFF HIS GLASSES, VISOR AND JACKET. HE SUGGESTED THAT I WATCH HIM AND TAKE MY BACKUP ACTION BASED ON HIS "SPEED AND URGENCY" ONCE HE GOT IN THE WATER... I DIDN'T NEED TO WAIT LONG BECAUSE AS HE WAS NEGOTIATING HIS WAY THROUGH THE WALL OF PEOPLE, THE "NINE IN A RIP" BEGAN TO PANIC.. I CALLED IT IN, GRABBED MY CAN AND MOVED AS FAST AS I COULD KNOWING THAT MY MOVEMENT WOULD BE PICKED UP BY THE GUARD IN 14 (NO 1550 IN THOSE DAYS) WHO WAS WATCHING ME LIKE A HAWK...

BY THE TIME I SWAM OUT TO THE VICTIMS (THROUGH SOME PRETTY GOOD SURF) BRUCE HAD ALREADY PADDLED INTO THE RIP AND ASSEMBLED THEM ON WHAT I WOULD LATER REFER TO AS "BRUCE'S ISLAND"... IT WAS A MASTERFUL DISPLAY OF BASIC LIFEGUARD KNOWLEDGE (THE ANTICIPATION OF THE PROBLEM), COMMAND OF HIS EQUIPMENT... IN SAFELY PADDLING THROUGH SOME BIG SURF WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE AND SMART USE OF IT!! BRINGING EACH VICTIM TO THE BOARD THEN TOWING THEM ALL SAFELY OUTSIDE THE SURFLINE... IF HE HAD NOT TAKEN THE BOARD WITH HIM, WE MAY HAVE HAD A FATALITY... I CAN REMEMBER GETTING OUT THERE AND SEEING BRUCE SITTING EXTREMELY "TALL" ON THE BOARD LOOKING DOWN INTO THE WATER LOOKING FOR #9... POINTING TO ME WHERE HE WAS SUBMERGED... YELLING AT ME TO "GET HIM"....

THE GUY WAS A STUD!

BY THE WAY, ABOUT 45 MINUTES LATER, BRUCE AND I WERE 'FEET UP,' INSIDE THE TOWER, BACK INTO OUR CONVERSATION ABOUT OUR MOTION PICTURE/TELEVISION "DREAMS" AND BRUCE SUGGESTED THAT I "DRAMATIZE" THAT RESCUE WE HAD JUST MADE IN THE SCRIPT I WAS WRITING... SO I DID AND WE USED THAT VERY SAME RESCUE SCENARIO YEARS LATER ON THE SHOW!!

CHEERS TO BRUCE!! WITH MY THANKS FOR A REALLY COOL "TELEVISION RESCUE"...

Gregory J. Bonann
Tower 18 Productions

spyder said...

I could have sworn Greg worked for Tower 12 Productions, but then Tower 18 was a special place in all of our memories.

William Maguire said...

From: Bruce Morgan
Subject: Re: "BIG DAYS Past" by Bruce Morgan
Date: March 22, 2010
To: Will Maguire

I have further details of the SM 15 EVENT which has recently been confirmed as the date April 13th 1980 (by checking my old 1980 evaluation form - and the event was logged as a "swimmers in drug drinking ocean related near drowning.

The event according to Lt Don Rosenthal's evaluation records generated positive remarks from Boat skipper Wally Reeves, Lt. Dan Culbert and the Section Chief of the time (D Rorher or Rex Odell?)

Best wishes,

Bruce Morgan