Agencies Assist Guards With Rip Current Rescues

OCEAN CITY – The Coast
Guard and Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) were called into action last
Saturday night to assist the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) with two rescue incidents
caused by dangerous rip currents.

The Coast Guard received
the first call around 6:50 p.m. last Saturday asking for assistance with the
rescue of three boogie boarders caught in a rip current near the Inlet jetty.
Coast Guard Station Ocean City launched a rescue boat and arrived on the scene
a short time later. By then, OCBP members had already rescued two of the
victims and had brought them to shore.

However, two OCBP
members were still with the third victim, but were having trouble fighting the
outgoing tide back to shore, according to a Coast Guard release. The Coast
Guard rescue boat responded to the area and pulled all three people aboard
while an NRP vessel assisted with boat traffic in the area.

The Coast Guard received
a second call with similar circumstances about two hours later on Saturday. At
around 8:30 p.m., the Coast Guard received a call about two teenagers caught in
a rip current. Again, the Coast Guard launched a rescue boat and responded to
the scene and pulled the two teens and two OCBP members who initially responded
from the water.

An NRP vessel also
responded to the scene and pulled the remaining two OCBP members onto their
vessel.

While rip currents
present problems during times when the beach patrol is on duty, the two incidents
last Saturday illustrated the dangers of swimming in the evening and at night
when the lifeguards are no longer on duty, according to the Coast Guard.

“Beach goers should only
swim when lifeguards are present,” said Petty Officer 2nd-Class
Alonzo Curry of Coast Guard Station Ocean City. “People shouldn’t be swimming
alone or at night. These are common factors in many of the rip current cases we
receive.

Rip currents are
frequent during the late summer months, often forcing the OCBP to make hundreds
of rescues in a single day. For example, during the last week of July, the
Beach Patrol rescued 756 swimmers caught in rip currents, or an average of 108
per day over the seven-day period. On one day during the stretch, lifeguards
went into the water 596 times to rescue distressed swimmers caught in rip
currents.

After
one particularly dangerous incident last summer, town officials debated an
ordinance to ban ocean swimming after dark, but it never passed after
considerable debate. 

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