OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Larry Merrifield, Ready To Start

OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Larry Merrifield, Ready To Start
Before becoming a paramedic, Larry Merrifield is pictured above left with a colleague. Submitted Photo

(Editor’s Note: The following is a series on the men and women who have spent their summers protecting all those who came to Ocean City for fun and safe vacation.)

OCEAN CITY — Larry Merrifield was never the kind of guy who waited around for things to happen. He always made the decision and went. That was certainly the case when he graduated from Parkville High School in 1979 and headed straight to Ocean City with a couple of friends. And once he hit the beach, there was no question about what he was going to do, saying, “The only job I wanted was OCBP.”

He got it. And then he almost lost it. While making a call in a phone booth just off the Boardwalk, a Ford Bronco lost control and crashed into him, severely hurting his leg.

“I was devastated. Something I had worked so hard for, was over,” Merrifield said.

But Merrifield quickly realized that OCBP “meant too much for me to just give up”. The captain agreed and let him go through rehabilitation while maintaining a position on the patrol. Through hard work and determination and a lot of help from his new crew mates on beach patrol, he came back ready to take the stand and to take charge.

That never quit attitude came in handy one particular day as he watched a windsurfer battling a strong west wind. The man was too far out and unable to make it back into shore, so Merrifield and another guard paddled out on rescue boards to bring him in.

“By the time we got out to him, he was a half mile off shore and barely conscious,” Merrifield said. “My partner and I hooked his ropes up to our ankles and began the long paddle back to shore. It felt like we were never going to get there.”

Merrifield and the windsurfer made it in just fine. He continued on the beach patrol until 1982, before becoming a paramedic and firefighter because he “liked helping people, which all started with the OCBP.”