October 2009 home page


Endless Summer
Jon Edelbrock | Del Mar Lifeguard


Painting by Mac McMillan

In case you blinked and missed it, another summer season just passed by like the four o’clock train. Our quaint ocean town has returned from the boom and bustle of hot summer days filled with visitors from near and far. While Del Mar appears much like the small city I became acquainted with as a young raw lifeguard, eighteen years ago, the summer seasons for life guarding and crowd management have undergone a metamorphosis to keep up with increased attendance, variation of beach and ocean activities, as well as rising popularity of dogs on the beach.

As a lifeguard and city employee, I hear many conversations with residents and patrons. Often, topics during the summer months revolve around the CROWDS, from “Where do they come from?” to “Where do they all park?” Without considering the quantitative data of our logbooks, it’s easy to prove that there are more people – everywhere in the city – during the summer months. Census figures, freeway traffic, urban sprawl, and many more variables, easily point to this conclusion; especially given the beauty and nearly free entertainment our open spaces provide.

As a result of increased use and varying activities in our open spaces, lifeguards have transformed the way we go about our business. While most entities of the Emergency Medical System and Law Enforcement function in reactive modes, as lifeguards were able to do more in the past, our department has increasingly become more proactive with our approach to maintaining a healthy, safe, and fun environment.

Akin to this preventive approach are multiple factors. While some patrons argue against increased regulations, working with a friendly educational approach has proven a safe and effective method. For example, much more of our time used to be spent reacting and responding to emergency situations whereas today our time is spent giving safety talks, segregating swimmers and surfers, maintaining signage, and regulating commercial activity. By getting out and working in this manner, we’re better able to prevent problems before they arise. This, however, leads us to lower rescue totals; the most vital and marketable statistic of any lifesaving agency.

The leader of our lifeguard crew, Pat Vergne, has responded to his position (which was once mostly that of personnel management) into one that serves as a figurehead of the Del Mar community. With a diversity of roles and responsibilities affecting all aspects of our local government, Pat has become much like Captain Merrill Stubbing of The Love Boat to beach visitors, giving all his attention and efforts to making certain every guest leaves happy with their Del Mar experience.

Like it or not, the crowds are here during the summer. Lifeguards and city staff will continue to adapt and work within our marching orders of helping provide Safe Fun in the Sun. We’ll see you down at the beach this fall!


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