(July 6, 2018) Fifty-nine new lifeguards will take the stands this summer after completing the Ocean City Beach Patrol Rookie Graduation on Thursday, June 28.

“This is an exciting event because it gives the rookies a chance to demonstrate all the skills that they learned in Surf Rescue Academy,” said Kristin Joson, Ocean City Beach Patrol Public education coordinator. “They get eight days of intense physically and mentally challenging training.”

During the Rookie Graduation ceremony, participants who trained at the Surf Rescue Academy had to successfully complete seven stations set up at the inlet beach. They had 15 minutes to complete each station.

In the first station, rookies coordinated with the Ocean City Coast Guard and the Department of Natural Resources in an assisted rescue where victims were swimming too close to the jetty’s sharp rocks lining the edge of the inlet shoreline.

“Not only do beach patrol personnel practice the skills [needed], but the other agencies get to practice working with [the] beach patrol in these emergency situations,” Joson said.

The second station involved teamwork in a rescue for a victim who swam out too far with the assistance of a land line, a bright yellow rope used to help pull the swimmer and lifeguards back to shore.

Medical attention was the primary focus of the third station, where rookies had to practice the removal of victims and stabilization of neck or back injuries. Another team effort, multiple lifeguards had to attempt to stabilize a victim with a potential neck injury in the water.

The fourth station required the use of paddle boards to practice entering and exiting the surf to complete a rescue.

Teamwork was another key role in the fifth station, where rookies had to work as a team to locate a submerged victim. Typically, this type of action is required when a struggling victim is too exhausted to swim any longer or becomes unconscious.

At the sixth station, rookies learned how to launch jet skis into the water to assist in a long-range rescue. Graduates pick up and turn the jet ski, manned by a veteran lifeguard, and push it into the water.

“Rookie Graduation gives [participants] a chance to work with veteran staff to practice and demonstrate their skills,” Joson said.

For the seventh and final station, lifeguard prospects ran 300 meters and collaborated to recover a “victim” that was buried in a sand hole.

Once all stations were completed by each group, the rookies lined up and ran past veterans and family members to shake hands with Capt. Butch Arbin, signifying the end of their training and the beginning of their careers as lifeguards.

Graduates receive the temporary role of probational surf rescue technicians until they complete four requirements to be promoted to surf rescue technician step one. In order to be promoted graduates need to perform the following:

• Work 21 days on a stand (one day is at least 3.5 hours) after successful completion of Surf Rescue Academy, without any policy infraction or employee incident. A policy infraction will re-start the 21-day count

• Obtain three weeks of satisfactory written performance evaluations

• Pass a semaphore communications test

• Attend and complete Rookie Graduation

Anyone seeking employment with the Ocean City Beach Patrol must successfully complete all aspects of an eight-phase pre-employment physical skills evaluation. Testing for Ocean City Beach Patrol to work next summer will be offered in Ocean City, with the first opportunity on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Seven additional opportunities will be offered both in Ocean City and throughout the region. 

“If you would like to become a lifeguard, it might interest you to know that because of the unique demands of the job, the Ocean City Beach Patrol does not require or recognize certification or past experience with other agencies,” Joson said. 

Once a candidate passes the physical skills test they are appointed to a 65-hour, paid ($13.55/hour and $14.94 after a three-week probation period) position.

Prior to the start of academy and each year they return to the patrol, lifeguards must pass a mandatory drug test. During Surf Rescue Training Academy, each rookie is trained and assessed in all necessary skills, techniques, procedures and protocols of the beach patrol.  

For more information, visit www.ococean.com/ocbp or call 410-289-7556.

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