OC Beach Patrol Explains Sunday’s Inlet Rescue Protocol

OC Beach Patrol Explains Sunday’s Inlet Rescue Protocol
Members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol and the US Coast Guard are pictured conducting an Inlet rescue in an earlier training session. This photo was not from Sunday. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY — An unidentified man rescued from the Inlet on Sunday by the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard had been warned by lifeguards not to enter the water but did so anyway.

On Sunday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City launched a 24-foot special purpose shallow water craft and pulled three swimmers from the Inlet including two OCBP surf rescue technicians (SRTs) and an unidentified male. According to the OCBP, alcohol was a contributing factor in the incident and the male victim had been warned by SRTs not to enter the water near the Inlet, but not only chose to go in the water, but swam directly into a rip current.

Per protocol, the OCBP notified the Coast Guard and sent two SRTs into the water to attempt the rescue for which they had been trained extensively. The beach patrol’s protocol for near-Inlet rescues is to take the victim around the north jetty to avoid injuries to the victim and its own personnel.

Under the practiced protocol, the lifeguard that initiates the rescue takes care of the victim, keeping him afloat and calm, according to the OCBP. The second lifeguard who enters the water during a near-Inlet rescue has the responsibility of watching out for boat traffic. The second lifeguard holds his or her buoy overhead and uses a whistle to warn boat traffic in the area to steer clear. It’s a protocol practiced frequently by the OCBP and its partners the Coast Guard and the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP).

“This is normal protocol and we practice this exact scenario with the USCG and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources every year,” an online statement from the OCBP reads. “In the case from yesterday [Sunday], alcohol was a contributing factor and the victim was warned by SRTs not to enter the water, but decided not only to enter the water, but swim directly into a rip current.”

During the incident on Sunday, the OCBP was in the process of conducting its practiced protocol for Inlet rescues when the Coast Guard arrived and pulled the victim and the two SRTs from the water. No injuries were reported.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.