Friday, February 18, 2011

"1911: The Very First Lifeguard Swift Water Rescue", by Cal Porter

They say: "When it rains it pours!"...

And so we now have for your consideration what may be the very first lifeguard swift water rescue by an L.A. County beach lifeguard ever!... as told to us by Cal Porter.

"1911: The Very First Lifeguard Swift Water Rescue", by Cal Porter

Copyright Cal Porter 2011. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission.

"The first time ever that beach lifeguards were called on to make inland fresh water (aka, swift water) rescues involved George McManus (aka, Mac) who worked for the LA County Lifeguards from the first day the guard service was established until his retirement at Zuma Beach.

The year was 1911, long before the events at Baldwin Hills and San Fernando. It was the year of the Great San Gabriel River Flood out in the Azusa, Glendora area, some forty or so miles from the beach. After days of rain the river was swollen and overflowing its banks threatening homes and people. The sheriff’s department was summoned for help with the disaster. They grabbed the only two capable watermen they knew of, George and his fellow lifeguard who were working at the time in the old Venice Saltwater Plunge. This was 1911 when paid lifeguards had only been around for about four years starting with George Freeth at the Redondo Plunge in 1907. Arriving at the scene, after towing a skiff with a couple of paddles behind the sheriff’s car, they were helping many people to safety when they saw in the middle of the torrent a house surrounded by water with a family of three desperately calling for help. George and his fellow lifeguard launched the skiff in the river far above the threatened house hoping to be able to hit the spot before the house and family were swept away. Right on target they were able to grab and pull the family of three into the boat and off down the rapids they went. After fighting the current for over a mile and keeping the boat right side up they were able to reach the river bank, beach the skiff, and help the parents and child to safety.

Chatting with “Mac” at State Beach, Santa Monica Canyon, where we both guarded back in the 40’s he told me that this was certainly the most dramatic event of his long career as a lifeguard. And then he told me of the time that, as a lifeguard, he was fighting a raging fire in a Venice waterfront hotel when he slipped and almost fell through the roof into the fire. But that’s a another story.


(Photo above shows Mac, at bottom, and his fellow Venice Plunge Lifeguards, 1922. Photo courtesy of Cal Porter.)


*** Thanks Cal ! What a sensational story of courage and skill and 100 years ago !

Until next time.....

"County Recurrent" News

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.

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

No comments: