CJ LaCasse

CJ LaCasse has been with the Ocean City Beach Patrol for eight years. He is the crew chief for crew 11 and sits the stand at 76th Street.

(June 4, 2021) It is so exciting to be at the beginning of another summer season in beautiful Ocean City.

We are eagerly anticipating the many visitors that will vacation in our resort town this summer. Sun worshipers, graduates, boogie boarders, surfers, beach enthusiasts and just about anyone that wants to get away for a relaxing and fun vacation will be arriving.

Some have been planning all winter for their beach vacation and anticipate a picture-perfect week. Although many things have changed due to covid, the Beach Patrol’s mission cannot change, and it is the expectation of our visitors and citizens that the Beach Patrol will be ready to respond as we have in the past.

The phrase “The New Normal” seems to have gained wide acceptance recently, however, I am not ready to buy into that mindset.

The people who will be visiting our beach this summer are not expecting a “New Normal.” They are expecting the familiar normal of seasons’ past.

I am not denying that much has changed, however, people are expecting the same care and service from the lifeguards as they have always received. Although we have changed procedures to adapt to covid-19, this does not affect the services that we must provide.

People will still walk up and ask questions, report lost children, ask for first aid, and expect to be assisted in the water if they need help. The Beach Patrol has always prided themselves on going beyond expectations, and covid is no excuse to change that now.

How we accomplish our mission may need to be adjusted, but our guards are prepared to fulfill all three aspects of our mission: education, prevention and intervention. This mission guides our organization.

As a retired educator with Charles County Public Schools for over 32 years and 17 years as the Beach Patrol’s public education coordinator, I know the importance of the first part of our mission.

Education is not only one of the best gifts you can give someone, but it is also incredibly empowering. Ocean City Today has been an asset for us in helping to achieve the educational part of our mission.

Understanding the dangers that our ocean presents, allows a person to make decisions to keep themselves and their family safe while vacationing in Ocean City. I cannot tell you how many times someone has shared with me that they just had no idea about certain safety messages.

Each week I will continue to share some of the most important things to remember to make your stay safe and enjoyable.

We will still provide education to the public though the activities, opportunities and venues as we have in the past. Our Junior Beach Patrol program has been approved to return to a full roster of 30 campers for each session, with covid protocols in place.

We will still participate in the weekly Life-Saving Station Museum schedule, Sundaes in the Park, and have safety articles in multiple publications, and you will still see our most meaningful educational opportunities on the beach with our lifeguards performing their beach safety seminars and the individual or small group “EDUs” that are performed daily.

The second part of our mission is prevention.

Preventive actions are the main tools for keeping the public safe and avoiding more serious situations. Our knowledge and expertise help us to inform the public that they are potentially getting into unsafe or dangerous situations before we must intervene.

To accomplish this, we must be willing to get off our stands and interact with the public, while taking the appropriate precautions.

Our lifeguards will be provided with PPE again this season. You can help your guard by following the local ordinances (rules) and laws, so they do not have to leave their stand as often, to ask you to stop a prohibited activity.

The final aspect of our mission, intervention, relies on the application of the lifeguard’s physical skills and training.

Although executing the first two aspects of our mission reduces the likelihood that we will need to intervene, we know through experience that there will be instances on the beach when we will be required to perform first aid and water rescues as routine parts of our daily duties.

Performing these skills will be made safer with our updated protocols and procedures, and we will respond without hesitation.

As we fulfill our mission, you might also be interested to know the statistics of a typical summer season for the OCBP.

Returning lost and found individuals (1,000 – 2,000)

Minor first aids (1,500 – 2,500)

Medical emergencies with EMS (100 – 200)

Head/neck/spinal responses (80 – 100)

Police assists (75 –125)

USCG/DNRP assists (10 – 25)

Preventative actions in water (75,000 – 150,000)

Surf rescues (2,000 – 4,000)

The changes we accept to complete our mission are changes in protocols and procedures.

While we exist to provide a public safety service, we will continue to deliver a “normal” beach experience during these covid times.

Ocean City is a great place to vacation, and we are in competition for the continued loyalty of our visitors. We will continue to do our part as lifeguards and as ambassadors for the Town of Ocean City.

To get current information about the Beach Patrol, beach safety, as well as daily stats and current beach conditions, you can visit our website at oceancitymd.gov/ocbp or follow us on Instagram or our Facebook page.

We will never know how many lives have already been saved by the lifeguards’ attentiveness, but you can help and do your part by reading our safety advice each week and sharing the information with others.

We also encourage you to check in with the lifeguard each time you visit to learn about current conditions. Each day they write a beach or ocean tip on the back of their stand.

We can’t wait to be a part of your wonderful experiences in Ocean City, and always remember to “Keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard’s in the stand!”

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