Rescue A Timely Summer Safety Reminder

Rescue A Timely Summer Safety Reminder

Some of the biggest headlines for much of this summer have involved marine life in the ocean, but the dramatic rescue by a local man of a visiting family in Nantucket last week serves as a reminder of what’s truly the biggest summer danger.

Sure, salps, Portuguese Man O’ War and hammerhead sharks have been seen this summer on the beach and shallow ocean waters, but ask any current or former lifeguard about their biggest concern when it comes to protect the public and their answer will be rip currents.

Last week, while vacationing in Nantucket, Tom Vach, an Ocean City native and one of the organizers of the Ocean City Surf Club, was on the beach when he heard screaming for help coming from a family of three. Vach was able to rescue the daughter, mother and father and all of it was caught on a GoPro camera. He was later able to reconnect with the family after seeing on the news they wanted to meet with the person who saved them so they could thank him in person.

It was a special situation that had a happy ending. However, all too often these sorts of incidents do not have that same outcome. For instance, it was only a couple years ago when two small children became stuck in a rip current before the lifeguards came on duty. Their mom tried to rescue the children and was successful, but she lost her life in the process of getting them to safety. It was a horrifying situation that could have been avoided if the family had waited 15 minutes for the lifeguards to come on duty and if they knew more about rip currents and about the proper way to get out of them.

Vach couldn’t help but touch on that this week when interviewed.

“The message here is, don’t panic and as odd as it sounds, let the rip current take you for a little bit and then swim parallel to the beach once you get outside of it,” he said. “Your first instinct is to swim back into it because that’s the way you came in, but that’s when people, even the best swimmers, get into trouble. … One of the things we always hammer home when we’re teaching the youth about the ocean is it is something to respect.”

That’s so true and visitors and locals would be well advised to check in with lifeguards each day to get a report on conditions and to never swim unless the lifeguards are on duty. It’s common sense advice that if followed will save lives.