OCEAN CITY – Although the summer months seem far off with high temperatures in the 30s yesterday, the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) is already gearing up for summer as it prepares for its first offsite test Sunday.
OCBP Captain Butch Arbin reported this week that the OCBP will be holding its annual strategic planning day on Saturday followed by its first offsite test at Salisbury University on Sunday.
The annual strategic planning day is held each year in an effort to gather several levels of OCBP leadership to review last season and set goals for the upcoming season. There is also a focus on new lifeguard recruitment and training.
This year the OCBP will be holding eight offsite tests, starting Sunday at Salisbury University and spanning across Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania through April. Local tests are also held in Ocean City.
“We’ve had a big push for Sunday. Our hope is that we get a lot of quality candidates so that we can fill our ranks early on,” Arbin said, noting the increase in advertising they’ve put forth this year to get a strong crowd of interested candidates.
Each year the OCBP is put to the task of filling the ranks of about 200 lifeguards. Arbin explained that fortunately for the OCBP, about one-third of the patrol is returning guards with five or more years of experience with the OCBP. Another one-third of the patrol is made up of returning guards who have been with the OCBP for less than five years, with the remaining one-third made up of new recruits.
“We normally average around 50 new recruits per year,” Arbin said.
Although most of the emphasis for recruitment is done within Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the OCBP attracts guards from all over the world.
“We get them from everywhere,” Arbin said.
Although many of the lifeguards come from as far as Russia, California or Canada, many of the guards are recruited locally.
“Lately we’ve really been doing a lot with locals,” Arbin said.
The additions of the Stephen Decatur High School (SDHS) swim team and the SDHS Junior Lifesavers Club has helped with the increase in local guards.
Many recruits also come from Salisbury University, as many of the college students opt to spend at least one summer at the beach.
“Salisbury University has been a really good recruiting ground for us,” Arbin said, noting his hopes for a strong turnout on Sunday.
The try-outs typically run three to four hours, but not all of that time is spent on intense testing. The first half hour is dedicated to educating the candidates on the OCBP as an organization. Offsite tests includes a 400-meter run in less than 80 seconds, 500-meter swim in a pool in less than 10 minutes, simulated rescues, a medley of a 150-meter run, 100-meter swim, and a 150-meter run and holds and releases.