Volusia County honors lifesaving efforts of Beach Safety and US Coast Guard.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
During the Volusia County Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, council members paid tribute to the Volusia County Beach Safety Division and the United States Coast Guard by issuing two proclamations.
July 11, 2023, was officially declared as "Beach Safety Excellence Day" and "Beach Safety and United States Coast Guard Heroes Day," aimed at acknowledging the exceptional bravery demonstrated by several individuals in safeguarding lives during an incident that occurred on June 15, 2023, at the Ponce Inlet Jetty, where adverse weather conditions and turbulent waves left two adults and two children stranded on slippery rocks.
Due to the heroic efforts of Lifeguard/EMT Thomas McGibeny, Lifeguard Declan Outlaw, Boatswain's Mates Corey Walsh and Collin Milne, Machinery Technician Antonio Gonzalez, Seaman Kenneth Gil de Rubio of the Volusia County Beach Safety Division, and the U.S. Coast Guard the stranded individuals were safely rescued. Amidst lightning strikes, five-foot swells, and powerful wind gusts, Lifeguard Declan Outlaw displayed immense courage by swimming to the victims and delivering them individually to Lifeguard/EMT Thomas McGibeny. The victims were then secured on a rescue ski and transported to a nearby Coast Guard vessel. The seamless coordination and collaboration between the two organizations, honed through years of working together in emergencies, have been pivotal in saving numerous lives.
Volusia County Beach Safety Division has a proud history of providing exemplary service to beachgoers while simultaneously preserving natural resources. Responsible for overseeing the management of 47 miles of pristine beaches, the division is one of the few agencies certified as an Advanced Lifeguard Agency by the United States Lifesaving Association. The division's exceptional training standards and dedication to law enforcement services from 1996 until May 25, 2023, were recognized by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, earning them the esteemed excelsior recognition.
Comprising a dedicated team of 192 seasonal lifeguards with ocean rescue certification, 43 full-time personnel who possess dual certification as ocean rescue lifeguards and emergency medical technicians, as well as five administrative staff members, the Beach Safety Division is globally renowned as a leading agency in the field of lifesaving. Their accomplishments speak for themselves, having conducted more rescues than any other agency in Florida combined. The division has even partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice to share expertise and assist the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in enhancing its tourism-oriented policing and rescue strategies. Furthermore, during the 2022 hurricane season, Beach Safety personnel efficiently managed evacuation and recovery shelters, performed daring high-water rescues, and handled inquiries at the county's Citizens Information Center.
In a typical year, the dedicated Beach Safety personnel carry out extensive duties to ensure public safety. These include rescuing 4,060 swimmers, responding to 256 major medical calls, providing first aid to 479 individuals, treating 3,165 jellyfish stings, assisting with 1,829 disabled vehicles, addressing 927 environmental concerns, reuniting 34 lost children and adults with their loved ones, and taking 61,151 preventive actions. Their commitment to safeguarding lives and maintaining the well-being of beachgoers is commendable.
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