The Ocean City Beach Patrol put the wraps on its four-month coverage season last weekend without one reported drowning.
Considering millions of people of all ages and abilities swim in the ocean over the summer, that’s an impressive fact to report.
Even one drowning is too much in a summer season, but the reality is ocean deaths happen in Ocean City. It’s rare for nothing tragic to occur in the ocean during the summer months, but that’s exactly what happened this season. Unfamiliarity with ocean currents, swimming without lifeguards on duty and alcohol overindulgence are often the cause of drownings in Ocean City.
There’s simply a certain amount of uncontrollability when it comes to poor human decision making. Bad judgment is almost always the cause of drownings in Ocean City.
A good example would be last Saturday, a warm beach day to kick off the autumn season. With only 32 lifeguards stands manned, compared to 92 at peak manpower, approximately 100 rescues were made by lifeguards. Despite the average distance between the stands being about two football fields, people were going in the ocean in between the stands rather than adhering to the beach patrol’s guidance to swim near the lifeguards. Last Saturday marked the most rescues in a single day since July 26 when 206 rescues were reported with 91 stands on the beach. That goes to show how busy the lifeguards were and how hard they had to work to keep people safe.
While there certainly is some luck and good fortune involved with this impressive feat, the daily work of the Ocean City Beach Patrol members and the massive amount of education efforts made on a daily basis deserve tremendous credit.
Lifeguards in Ocean City work hard as a team overseeing the water and making rescues as pertinent. That’s the obvious observations. However, there’s also a dedication to informing swimmers on a daily basis of the current ocean conditions, educational articles in local publications outlining best practices on the beach and ocean and a variety of direct citizen interactions aimed at increasing awareness of ocean dangers.
We like to think those efforts, albeit with a bit of good luck, resulted in no losses of life in the ocean. It’s a positive achievement for a largely forgettable summer on most fronts.