Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Ocean Wet Daily", by Chief Randy DeGregori, Ret.

(The above 3 photographs are memorabilia inside Zuma HQ, present day. Photo by Will Maguire.)

Too many Chief's do NOT spoil the Blog ! In fact, they improve it !

Here's another reason why this is true ! A story from Randy DeGregori entitled, "Ocean Wet Daily", aka "OWD". Read all about it here and only here on "County Recurrent" ! 10-4, Copy that !


"Ocean Wet Daily", by Randy DeGregori

"As a young Recurrent at Zuma in the 60s, we always hated the first two weeks of schedule. Lieutenant Bob Burnside had every Recurrent and Permanent complete a buoy swim in front of the HQS at the start of each shift. Even the guards working the outlying areas had to do it. If you know Zuma you can expect warm weather and butt-cold water in the spring especially after days of NW winds and upwelling. Even warm water will drop dramatically after a good spring blow. Lifeguards who had been off to school for the winter and were used to warm pools and hot showers were sure to get a “stay dry” prefix to their names if they demonstrated much hesitation. You all know someone who fits this description.

(Photo above shows the Zuma buoy, present day. Photo by Will Maguire.)

(Photo above shows the 1974 Zuma Crew. Photo Courtesy of Bob Burnside. Used here with permission.)

When I became a Permanent Lifeguard in April of 1970, I was summoned with the other new permanents to the old Redondo HQS. Captain Dwight Crum was one of two captains under Chief Bud Stevenson but was the acknowledged leader of the lifeguard service at the operational level. Dwight gave us a short talk about accepting lifeguarding as a life-long profession and way of life. He used Recurrent Lifeguard, Herman Friend, in his 60s and near the end of his career, coming up from the beach and obviously just out of the water, as an example of an individual dedicated to Ocean Wet Daily. There were no surfing wetsuits in those days. It didn't fully sink in with me at the time but over the years I came to accept and respect the importance of OWD.

In the old Beaches and Harbors days our masters were squeamish about liability. If it was dangerous you couldn't do it. If they had their way there would be no training in pier jumps, entries off rock jetties or any other activity they envisioned might cause an injury. It was difficult for us to train for real-life emergencies. If you don't practice these things how can you expect people to do them in the real deal?

No civilian passengers in a truck. Don't tow any private vehicles with county equipment even if in not doing so it would result in loss or a haz-mat incident. Remember the multi page incident reports? CYA was the rule of the day. Then Kerry O'Brien got hurt on a surfing workout at T-11 at Zuma and away went surfing workouts. No one had the smarts to log it as a rescue board workout which they could not readily prevent.

(Editor's note: Now we know who to blame for that (now rescinded) multi-year surfing ban ! Woo Hoo ! :-) 10-4, copy that !)

When the lifeguard service became part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department we had a great opportunity to get more realistic in our training and lose some of the bad CYA policies of B&H. Having heard him speak, I got Chief Deputy Larry Miller to come to our Permanent rechecks and his message was electrifying. The taxpayers paid us to do the right thing and it was not only OK but expected! . He called it “Wow Service” and the lifeguards jumped right on board. Those were exciting times for us.

It has been my observation that many non surfers will take a dry workout, some will avoid that as well. A hot shower follows with a nice lunch. It is easy for these folks to get into that “stay dry” comfort zone. Many of these people never touch a rescue board. Granted most of our rescues are close inshore or in large surf where a rescue board is a liability, however, it is one of the tools of the trade and invaluable in the right situation.

Lifeguards who surf know what the water temperature is at any given time of year. They know the power of the waves. The are cognizant of the bottom conditions and if called upon can damn well handle a rescue board. Surfing is fun and so gets you in the water when you otherwise might opt for warm and fuzzy. A surfing workout will place the lifeguard in the most likely spot to make a rescue if that becomes necessary while on a workout. Lifeguards who surf will spend a lot of time at the beach off duty and at least one that I know of, Dillon Jones, made a great rescue and saved a life while surfing in some extremely difficult circumstances. When going out into something nasty and dangerous I feel confident with a lifeguard surfer coming to back me up.

You won't find many “stay dry” lifeguard surfers!

Like anything else that is fun, surfing on-duty needs to be done when appropriate and for the allotted amount of time with your area covered. That's where self discipline and supervision comes into play."

Your Servant,

Randy DeGregori,
Chief Lifeguard, Retired and still OWD.

("Ocean Wet Daily", Copyright Randy DeGregori 2011. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission.)


In the photo below, Randy, is shown at the head of the table implementing the related OWD policies, while surfing in Fiji with his buds in 2007, of "Cerveza Wet Daily" and "Scarfing Up Post Surf Session Grub Daily".

(Photo above courtesy of Randy DeGregori, from an earlier blog post.)

Many thanks to Randy DeGregori for his great story and for yet another acronym to remember (OWD), albeit a very legit acronym.

And just in from Veteran Zuma Recurrent, Ed Heinrich:

"I remember one particular story about a morning swim at Zuma HQ about 1966. Unknown to the buoy swimmer, the dive team was out underwater near the workout buoy, Lt Burnside saw one lone swimmer from below, he came up and grabbed the unsuspecting lifeguard. The young guard did not worry about the cold water for a few frightened moments."

Ed Heinrich
Zuma rookie 1965


Thanks Ed! 10-4

Until next time.....

"County Recurrent" News

("County Recurrent" Old School Churchill Fins In Hand At Zuma, Friday, 10.01.2010, implementing the DeGregori OWD policy).

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.

*** PLEASE forward to other Recurrents, past and present, so that we can add them to our mailing list. ***

*** OPT IN *** Just send us an email and we will add you to the list.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****


William Maguire said...

Thanks again Randy! IT is a great article. I had a conversation with Capt. John Larsen in July this past summer after I tested the swell
at SMS T-28, 27, 26, 25 and 24 on July 5th. Big strong powerful surf and a bit cold too ! I went in at T-28, got my fins on by the time the
lateral swept me to T-27, waited on a set, then swam out in the infamous T-26 rip, was playing around and whupping it up and hand signaling the T-26 guards and not paying attention to the NEXT SET !!!..... which I then had to duck under (glad it was 4 waves and not 5). The third wave was the biggest and meanest and the primordial sound of the breaking wave behind in the dark with my hands grabbing sand 10 feet down was very impressive. The long and short of the conversation a few days later with John Larsen was that I was glad I went out in it because
I needed the practice. John then said that is why he is in the water everyday!... in keeping with your same philosophy. It's got to be second nature. 10-4

Nick said...

While working ZUMA beach I didn’t surf much. I made it a point to go in the water during on my shift. Unlike Donnie Olson who went in the water no matter what the weather conditions… he was in the water every shift!