Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The 2014 Lifeguard Medal Of Valor Dinner

2014 Lifeguard Medal of Valor Award Recipients:

Rescue Boat Captain Lee Davis

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Lars Gustafson

On October 9th, 2013 Los Angeles received its first and arguably its strongest winter storm of the 2013-2014-winter season.  Heavy rain and gale force winds battered the Los Angeles County coastline for much of the day and well into the evening hours.  At 1945 hours a faint mayday call was put out over Marine VHF channel 16 in the Marina del Rey area.  All that was heard by the on duty Baywatch del Rey crew was, “Mayday…..we’re going on the rocks……marina……. 

RBC Davis and OLS Gustafson responded Code R to the Marina del Rey break wall entrance, knowing by experience this was the most likely location for a boater in these conditions to find trouble.  The normally calm area was awash with 8 to 10 foot surf kicked up by the 45 mph winds. The large surf was breaking onto the jagged, barnacle covered rocks with a deafening boom.  To add to the already difficult job of operating a boat in such extreme weather conditions, was a literal minefield of lobster hoop nets floating on the surface.  Only small flashing strobe lights could be seen piercing the dark night to denote the hoop net locations.

Once on scene the Baywatch Del Rey crew arrived on scene to find a 25’ Wellcraft powerboat already being battered against the rocks of the break wall.  With each wave the boat was slammed against the rocks, cracking the fiberglass and pouring hundreds of gallons of sea water into the boat.  As RBC Davis positioned the boat to attempt a stern tow rescue of the boat, the crew’s worst fears were realized.  The combination of the pounding surf and sea water in the vessel caused the vessel to capsize.  The vessel’s two occupants were ejected into the swirling surf between the rocks and what was left of the splintered hull. 

Without hesitation or need for consultation, the crew switched gears from a boat rescue scenario to an attempt to save the lives of two people in the water. 

In what can only be described as masterful boat operating, Capt. Davis positioned the boat in a safe location to drop OLS Gustafson in the water for a contact rescue of the 2 mariners.   Leaping from the swim step of the Baywatch rescue boat into some of the most dangerous conditions a lifeguard can ever be in, OLS Gustafson sprinted towards the rocks to rescue the young boy and his father. 

OLS Gustafson made contact with the young boy near the rocks and swam him out through the surf, while RBC Davis positioned the Baywatch rescue boat in a perfect location as to avoid wrapping one of its propellers in the field hoop nets. With the son safe aboard Baywatch del Rey, OLS Gustafson again made his way into the impact zone to rescue the father.  Assisted by two lifeguards from 2 other Baywatch rescue boats in the area for a training class, the father was brought safely out of the danger zone.

Upon reaching safety, the crew debriefed the operator of the vessel and discovered that the now capsized vessel’s propeller became wrapped on one of its own hoop nets and was rendered inoperable, leading to the catastrophe.  Unfortunately, the vessel was totally destroyed by the surf and broke up on the break wall. 

The actions of RBC Davis and OLS Gustafson on the night of October 9th 2013 were extraordinary, and executed flawlessly.  Without the exemplary actions of OLS Gustafson and RBC Davis the two mariners would have surely perished.  Their actions are in keeping with the highest demands of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards and display true dedication to the core values of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.  
Lee Davis
Lars Gustafson

 Distinguished Service Award

In the early afternoon of June 22, 2013, a brush fire in the Point Dume area of Malibu rapidly progressed as the offshore breeze began to strengthen.  Within a relative short amount of time, the Point Dume Club residential area was in the direct path of the growing fire, as Los Angeles County Fire Department / Lifeguard Division personnel were requested to the incident with other in-bound County Fire resources.  Northern Battalion Lifeguard Captain Simon Snyder and Ocean Lifeguard Specialists Ryan Addison and Tim Ryan arrived on-scene, donned their brush gear and joined County Fire’s Engine 69 and Squad 88 to gain a handle on the blaze as it marched ever closer to homes in that area.  Lifeguard Captain Remy Smith joined the fire fight, in addition to other County Fire resources that were not assigned to an additional fire that had ignited prior to the Point Dume incident, in the Encinal Canyon area of Malibu.  The aforementioned Lifeguards worked with their Fire counterparts to gain the upper hand on the fire and cleared additional brush in the collective effort to protected life and property.  Our Lifeguard personnel did an outstanding job in mitigating the potential danger that the Point Dume Fire presented to that area, on the first full day of the summer of 2013. 

Scott Davey - 2014 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Award

Scott began his Los Angeles County Lifeguard career in 1971, where he worked at Zuma Beach, Malibu, Leo Carrillo, Pt. Dume and Corral Beaches.  He transferred to the South Bay in 1973 and spent the next 23 years working the South Bay’s many beaches from Cabrillo and Palos Verdes to Marina del Rey, as well as Catalina Island. 

In 1996, after 26 years as a seasonal lifeguard, Scott was hired as a Permanent Lifeguard (Ocean Lifeguard Specialist) and was assigned to Santa Monica, Will Rogers, Venice Beaches, and Baywatch Cabrillo.  In 1999, he was detailed to oversee the Nation’s largest Junior Lifeguard Program.  

In 2001, Scott was promoted to Beach Captain, where he served as Lifeguard Division’s PIO and Beach Captain on Cabrillo, Santa Monica, Will Rogers and Venice Beaches.

Scott was promoted in 2005 to Section Chief and assigned as the Training Chief for Lifeguard Division.  His responsibilities included the training for Lifeguard Division’s 900 seasonal and permanent lifeguards, the Junior Lifeguard Program and Public Affairs for Lifeguard Division.  He retired as the Training Section Chief in 2009, after serving the County for 39 years.

Scott was raised in Rancho Palos Verdes where he attended Miraleste High School and was an All-American Swimmer.  He went to San Diego State University, where he swam and played water polo before graduating with a degree in Geography in 1976. 

Scott lives in Hermosa Beach with his wife Shannon, (a retired Lifeguard Captain).  They have a wonderful and talented 11 year-old son, Reese.  Scott has two brothers who are also Ocean Lifeguards, one for San Diego City and the other with Los Angeles County. 

Scott has competed on 23 Taplin Teams for Los Angeles County and numerous Lifeguard National Championship teams.  He has rowed the Catalina Channel a dozen times, three times solo.  He also completed the 32 mile Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race in 2003, at age 50.  He has held a US Coast Guard masters license since 1991 and has sailed over 8,000 open ocean miles including multiple trips to Hawaii and Mexico.


Special Recognition Award

Joi Inscore (Wife of Lifeguard Captain Mike Inscore AND OL Hogan's mom)

On Thursday June 19, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. Joi Inscore was walking at low tide starting from Topaz and heading south towards Palos Verdes.  As she was approaching the end of the beach she noticed a surfer floating on his back in knee-deep water just offshore.  The surfer had on a full suit and his board was still leashed to his leg.  She watched him for about 20 or 30 seconds and noticed he was not moving.  At this point she realized something was wrong.  She quickly entered the water and noticed that the surfer was ghostly white and was unable to move. She immediately held his head up out of the water and was careful not to move his spine for fear of injuring him further. She asked him what happened.  The patient could not speak clearly. The only word he managed to say was "STROKE".  Joi screamed for help and was assisted by the Palos Verdes Surf Camp. Lifeguard Units from Torrance Beach and Avenue C responded to the scene as well as units from Torrance Fire and Los Angeles County Fire Station 2.  When the lifeguards arrived, Joi had the surfer lying on his back, stabilizing his head and was taking spinal precautions.  While lifeguards evaluated the patient Joi assisted with oxygen therapy. 

The lifeguard in that area was not due to come on duty until 11:00 a.m.  Had Joi not reacted so swiftly and decisively the surfer would surely have drown.


Congratulations to all this year's Award Recipients.  This annual event is a great opportunity for our lifeguard family to acknowledge our colleague's lifesaving efforts.  Many Thanks as well to Dave Story for allowing us to publish the above remarks and photos.


Until next time.....

"County Recurrent" News

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