Have you ever heard that expression that public safety is 99 percent boredom and 1 percent absolute terror? How about the one that talks about when it rains
. Both happened this past weekend.
We were in the middle of a busy weekend. The water was fairly rough, and crowds were big. In fact, we ended the weekend with a little more than 2,000 swimmers moved from dangerous areas, 15 rescues and more than 300 enforcement actions. We were pretty well staffed and held our own Sunday afternoon when everything happened all at once.
Within about 15 minutes, a police dispatcher called us on three separate 911 calls for possible drownings, which sparked a juggling act.
The first call was for a lost 5-year-old girl who was last seen just past the west end of the seawall. At first, we sent the rescue truck we had covering the West End but rerouted that truck to an area near the West End of the island on another call of a man missing in the water who reportedly might have drowned.
We sent the truck covering the West End of the seawall to the 5-year-old girl instead and had our “rover” unit cover that zone. The rover is an extra truck we schedule to cover emergencies. The final call was that of an overturned catamaran in the Pirate’s Beach area. We sent yet another truck that way with a second jet ski from Stewart Beach, and I covered that area.
Meanwhile, our partners with the Galveston Fire Department, Galveston Police Department, and Jamaica Beach Fire Rescue also were juggling and scrambling to find ways to get the right people and equipment to all three places simultaneously while keeping their normal operations running smoothly.
Also, much in the mix were the city dispatchers who did an unbelievable job of keeping all the details for each group straight.
The outcome was, fortunately, very positive. The little lost girl was found by following the trail of people who had spotted her running down the beach crying. The missing guy from way out west walked up wondering what all the lights and commotion were about. We got the catamaran back upright and they sailed away happily.
The only mishap was that of a would be good Samaritan who took his private jet ski out to help the sailboat and forgot to put the plugs in. We were able to rescue the driver and the semi-submerged craft, but an engine compartment full of salt water puts a real damper on the experience.
Don’t forget to head to the Press Box on 24th and Postoffice streets about 6 p.m. today. Our annual fundraiser event will be kicking off, and we’ll have a silent auction, the Brandon McDermott Band and plenty of great barbecue prepared by the Galveston Island Rugby Team. Tickets can be bought at the door. Proceeds help the junior guards and provide for lifeguard scholarships and equipment.
See you there!
Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity. Information on the Beach Patrol is at galvestonbeachpatrol.com.