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Lifeguards Make Four Rescues on Memorial Day

Woman suffered seizure while surfing.

With thousands of people enjoying the sand and ocean off Long Beach on Memorial Day, lifeguards faced a few close calls, with two incidents occurring on the same beach and another involving a surfer who suffered a seizure.

At about 6:15 p.m., an emergency response team was called to Long Beach Boulevard beach, where a woman and man who were in distress in the water. Paul Gillespie, chief of Long Beach lifeguards, said that the man, who he estimated was at least in his late 50s, was jogging along the shore noticed the woman in distress and entered the water to try to rescue her but got also caught up in the surf.

“She went in the water and the guy got her almost out of the water, but he became a victim along with her,” Gillespie said. “The lifeguards pulled the both of them in. They were both in bad shape when we brought them in.”

Gillespie said that the woman, who was in her early 20s, was intoxicated and was transported to Long Beach Medical Center along with her would-be rescuer.

Long Beach Boulevard beach was still relatively crowded at 6 p.m., after lifeguard shifts end for the day, Gillespie observed, and many people were on the boardwalk there waiting to get on the beach at the time, when people are no longer charged to get onto the beach.

At 8:20 p.m. at the same beach, the Long Beach Police Department was notified about a possible swimmer in distress. A police officer arrived at the scene and observed a male youth in distress in the water, according to Sgt. Eric Cregeen, the department’s public information officer.

“Police officer Fales used an inflatable rescue stick but the youth was unable to grab it,” Cregeen said. The officer entered the water and grabbed the victim. “The child was safely brought back to shore and was transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital [in Oceanside] for evaluation and treatment,” Cregeen added.

Gillespie noted that this rescue was at the exact same spot as the prior rescue. There is a large hole along the shore next to the jetty on that beach, he said, and the rip currents on Monday were stronger than usual, making the spot a more dangerous place to enter the water.

“If you go in the water near there and you just take step in there, you’re going to get sucked out,” he said. “It’s a very treacherous position there. We’ve lost a lot of people who have drowned at that jetty.”

Of rescues that occur after lifeguards are off duty at 6 p.m., Gillespie said that an emergency response team is on the beach but does not patrol looking for potential rescues. “We sit there and wait and if they’re are people in jeopardy, we go out and assist the people,” he said.

Before the two later-day rescues, at about 3 p.m., a woman was surfing at New York Avenue beach had an epileptic seizure and fell face down in the water. “Thank God the lifeguard spotted it right away,” Gillespie said. “They went in and pulled her out. She was not breathing when they got her in. They turned her on her side and she started heaving up water and then, thank God, she started breathing again.”

Her boyfriend was present and supplied her with her medication for her malady, Gillespie said, and she later told lifeguards that she suffered a seizure. The woman, who was in her later 20s, was transported to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition on Monday.

Lifeguards took hundreds of preventative actions throughout the holiday, including directing swimmers to move away from rip currents, and clearing paths when the trucks speed through during emergency call.

“We do a hundreds of preventative actions a day,” Gillespie said. “But it was otherwise a pretty smooth opening to the summer.”

Last summer, Long Beach lifeguards reported a beach season without any drownings.

Tired of this city May 31, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Elizabeth, maybe you should pose your questions to Jack Schirnman (city manager) and ask why on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend with every beach packed, he decided to have minimum staffing? Maybe that's why there were only 2 lifeguards responsible for hundreds of swimmers who are working a 9 hour day without a single break allowed. Maybe if Jack Schirnman put the lives of our citizens first, then he wouldn't have cut all of the part-time veteran lifegaurds and would have allowed the 30 lifeguards from last year work- but no, instead he put our citizens lives in jeapardy to save what, a few hundred dollars?
Tired of this city May 31, 2012 at 02:03 AM
So if you want improvement, start going to council meetings and insist that the city manager stop laying off lifeguards, stop refusing to let veteran part-timers work, and actually put safety first. If anyone is to blame, its the city's management for not putting safety first, not the 17 year olds who are doing the best job they can with scarcely staffed beaches.
Candygram for Mongo May 31, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Just let these whippersnappers know that we are watching them closely is all
EM May 31, 2012 at 02:52 AM
@ Elizabeth I think it is great that you commented on this and put a more accurate version of the story out there. I am not personally a surfer but have friends that surf and I really enjoy watching the sport. Oddly enough my friends that surf are also lifeguards. I think it's wrong to say surfers don't want to be helped if their in distress and lifeguards, by definition of their job, are there help those in the water, surfer or not. I think that we should stop attacking each other and really think about the point being made, We all wish to feel safe on the beach and in the water and John your right" life guards are human" and maybe there should have more of them. I hope the girl is feeling better, and that next time things are reported a bit more truthfully.
mybell May 31, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Some of you people make me sick to my stomach! You are obnoxious, rude, inconsistant, baby's! . Elizabeth was their, you weren't. If she says that the guards did not act in a timely manor then I am shore she isn't lying. Their is always room for improvement and I am shore that the guards will not let it happen again. Take your diapers off and put on some big boy/girl pants and shut up! Their is nothing more to talk about in regards to this incident. If you write something after this post you have way to much time on your hands and you need to go get a life .
Beach Bob May 31, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Tired of this city has it right. The beach is our best asset and resource. The beach should have maximum staffing of lifeguards at all times. The few dollars we are taking away from high school and college students is ridiculous. The beach should be fully staffed at all times and hours should be extended on some weekend days when needed.
K May 31, 2012 at 04:23 AM
She was in the water next to me. I do have a bracelet that says my name and epilepsy on it and my fathers phone number. Either way, whoever patted my back and kept me above water thank g-d because I still have water in my lungs. I just got discharged today from the hospital but I'm still filled up. Either way. Someone or several people saved my life and I'm pretty sure it was the dude surfing next to me. and then everyone else for whatever else happened that I have no recollection of.
K May 31, 2012 at 04:25 AM
that's true, and they're a massive help but come on, there were only 5 of us in the water. 5.
K May 31, 2012 at 04:26 AM
That's what the doctor said to me. I'm lucky to be alive.
K May 31, 2012 at 04:31 AM
exactly, I was in unknown territory. I don't think I've ever surfed NY but it was the surf beach so we went. And no, I'm not in any fight w lifeguards, they can and should guard my life and everyone else's. And learning about epilepsy is a big deal bc if someone is having a seizure in the water which is highly possible due to the light flickering etc, they need to see that happening and pull 'em out. Hmm if you need further explanation fee free to ask me. And I'll try to figure a way for this never to happen again.
K May 31, 2012 at 04:41 AM
alright, will do. fine. i guess those medical bracelets aren't enough and telling your friends isn't enough. but also, who's the dude that saved me. that is the last thing I remember, dude paddling to my left, wave crashing over me. ----------------------------
i_like_turtles May 31, 2012 at 04:43 AM
ourfriendsguardianangel@gmail.com If anybody would like to speak with me off the patch, feel free to email :)
K May 31, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Good point E. good point. and still, 5 of us, it was me, elizabeth, and 3 dudes I didn't know in the water. It's not like the beach was crowded it was a melllow afternoon
K May 31, 2012 at 04:47 AM
thanks callahan now i know the rules... i mean i tell mostly everyone... first dates... etc. but ok. I'll be tellin lifeguards. you know me btw
K May 31, 2012 at 04:49 AM
right on
K May 31, 2012 at 04:52 AM
so- figured I'd make this story a bit nicer. I'm home now. restin up for a bit. gotta de-salt water my lungs thanks to whoever helped me
Nancy May 31, 2012 at 05:38 AM
You people are NUTS attacking a woman with epilepsy that almost drowned. You are a bunch of cynics who forgot what it means to help thy neighbor. Wake-up people!! Sometimes people want to make a point without suing. You want to get mad about something to do with the city's money,,,get mad at the cops who are currently draining (and attempting to drain more) the city of money. I am young and I have several friends that are lifeguards and I will tell you right now a lot of them do not take their job seriously. These people come to work often drunk from the night before. Maybe the city would benefit from breathalyzing lifeguards before they are on duty. It is very scary to know these are the people are supposedly looking out for our safety.
LBLover May 31, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I see it as this: A women who has seizures does not tell lifeguards before entering the water and then has a seizure. A surfer who was next to her in the water saw it before the lifeguards who were sitting in chairs scanning the crowded beach. When the guards saw the surfer waving for help ran to the water to the save the girl while another guard called for ambulance and back-up. The woman who has reoccurring seizures should be more responsible and report her condition before entering the water. The LB lifeguards failed to only watch her in the water. What single person should they focus on this week? Sally from Valley Stream? Bob from Lynbrook? There are many people in the water and they can't focus on one single person! The guards did their job and did it well! They watch a section of beach scanning repeatedly for problems. Having to repeatedly tell out-of-town folk how to behave in the water. How many times do you see a guard walk over to the jetties to tell people where to swim? If you don't like our amazing lifeguards go somewhere else!
i_like_turtles May 31, 2012 at 02:03 PM
EM thank you :) my friend is feeling better and has actually started to add her comments to this article. she is posting under the name K.
i_like_turtles May 31, 2012 at 02:07 PM
we love you girl and are happy that you are ok! we have learned a lot from this experience and there is a lot to improve on, from all angles.
LBLover May 31, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Make sure you tell a lifeguard about your condition next time u go in water. Glad you're better.
i_like_turtles May 31, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Nancy please email me anything else you would like to share. ourfriendsguardianangel@gmail.com we want to help improve safety...not fight, not sue, not anger people, not create another problem...we just want to make things better. and that is not to say that the system in place does not function properly ever, we are just saying that there are areas which can be reviewed and tightened up a bit. i have at least 5 ideas thus far to help with such improvements that would cost the city $0, all it would cost is a little time and effort...both of which i am more than willing to provide in excess.
John May 31, 2012 at 02:28 PM
if they're on a beach manned by lifeguards, then the lifeguards make the rules. If the lifeguards think they're too far out, whistle them back. If they don't listen, drag them in. If they don't like it, they can go somewhere else. That would be defined as doing one's job.
delete me May 31, 2012 at 03:06 PM
they aren't going to sue the city.
delete me May 31, 2012 at 03:06 PM
AMEN
Candygram for Mongo May 31, 2012 at 03:57 PM
How can you be shore that she is not lying about what she saw down by the sure?
I.D. May 31, 2012 at 10:52 PM
please report all this to bob piazza at the beach park/rec. my beach is overflowing with jumpers and guys passing their used passes to the guys in the BMWs who are too cheap to buy a pass.
Born and Raised May 31, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Did you contact Mr. Gillespie about your concerns about the lifeguards and beach safety?
paul.d.spellman June 01, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Mybell I fully agree there is always room for improvement. Some of you people make me sick to my stomach! You are obnoxious, rude, inconsistant(inconsistent), baby's(babies)! . Elizabeth was their(there), you weren't. If she says that the guards did not act in a timely manor(manner) then I am shore(sure) she isn't lying. Their(There) is always room for improvement and I am shore(sure) that the guards will not let it happen again. Take your diapers off and put on some big boy/girl pants and shut up! Their(There) is nothing more to talk about in regards to this incident. If you write something after this post you have way to much time on your hands and you need to go get a life .

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