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A Whale of a Job
May 2009 | Jon Edelbrock, Community Servicesw and Lifeguard Sergeant

Del Mar Lifeguards practicing helicopter rescues.  Photo: Dave Werth

We are all feeling the effects of the current economic crisis: increased taxes, loss of government services, layoffs, increasing federal debt, and general instability relative to finance.

As much of America’s public and private sectors begin this historic effort to bring equilibrium back to balance sheets, it is time for employers and employees to diversify, distinguish, and just flat-out get creative. We are doing just that in Community Services. While the private sector struggles to maintain viability and produce profitable goods and services, the public sector faces the difficult specter of increased scrutiny of its services and heightened accountability.

In our small community, the value of our services and productivity are more apparent than larger government entities. If the parks and beaches aren’t clean, beach laws are ignored, or parking goes un-checked, we haven’t met our responsibilities or the expectations of the community of Del Mar.

This crises in public funding has been a gut check for me and made me all the more thankful to have a job that I enjoy. One couldn’t ask for more than working on and around the beach. This has been the “slow” season for most Del Mar businesses, and visitors don’t flock to the beach in quite the numbers this time of year as they do in summer. Staff levels dwindle to our off-season bare bones group and we often find ourselves contributing to many other tasks as we gear up for summer.

For instance, the Department has gone to great efforts to ensure that its employees are cross-trained. Lifeguards are trained for swift water rescue, underwater rescue and recovery, and even helicopter-assisted rescue. While our number one goal is to uphold the safety of our beach and our zero-drowning record since 1965, our responsibilities are also tied to general city work including activities that generate revenue for the general fund. Our efforts extend to providing EMS services, parking enforcement, park and facilities management, and maintaining a clean beach. In April lifeguards responded to the unfamiliar task of removing a twenty-eight foot long ten ton Gray Whale from the beach at 29th Street.  See photos below. The quick removal spared residents the pungency and sight of a decomposing whale carcass. The multi-tasking of our positions allows us to evolve and continually add services and value to community services.

The goal of “Safe Fun in the Sun” remains the same for our Department, however our services go far beyond maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience on our beaches. Now, more than ever, we aim to serve and be of value to all Del Mar residents and those who visit our city.


In April lifeguards responded to the unfamiliar task of removing a twenty-eight foot long ten ton Gray Whale from the beach at 29th Street.  Photo: Lynn Gaylord.


Photo: Lynn Gaylord.


Photo: Lynn Gaylord.


Twenty-four hours after it was hauled 5 miles out to sea, the whale floated back to the Torrey Pines Beach near the flat rock.  The following day it was sent to landfill, where the danger of its floating back was deemed negligible.  Photo: Virginia Lawrence.



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