(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 — Darren Foreman and his twin brother Dean were no strangers to summers at the beach. The Foreman family made the Delmarva coastline their vacation spot of choice for years. After the school year at St. Paul’s in Baltimore would end, the boys headed to the shore. “We had a house in Fenwick. I spent every summer down there from the age of 5 to 21,” he said.
As they got older, the brothers figured that they might as well get jobs while they were spending their summers at the beach. For two young fellows looking for some adventure and their own spending money, it was certainly a more exciting thing to do than sitting with the parents all day.
“My brother and I were working as pool guards at the Sheraton (now the Clarion Hotel) for several summers, which was really boring,” he said. “We’d always known the beach patrol was really tough to get on, but we finally decided just to go for it. We were shocked that we made it.”
It was the summer of 1981 when Darren took the stand for the first time on 19th Street. It was a busy downtown beach that kept him on the move all season. His record and reviews from crew chiefs and officers alike led to him being asked back every season. By the summer of 1982, he’d find himself guarding the crowded beaches of Ocean City’s condo row, where the rescues continued. “Like all of us, I probably had a couple of hundred pulls over the years,” he said.
Of course, rescues were not the only thing that kept Darren busy. “I really loved being on the Ocean City Beach Patrol,” he recalled. “Being a young guy and a local, we all felt like princes of the city. There was a touch of glamour to it. And at night all the bars let us in for free, never waiting in line, so that was cool. All in all, I just remember being young and care free, in the best shape if my life. It was the best job in OC.”
In the midst of the care free, there is always the possibility of the serious. For Darren, and for all Ocean City guards, those times come without warning.
“One of my most prominent memories is not really a good one,” he said. “An older man, with serious medical conditions had a heart attack on the beach and I was the first one to get to him. Another guard quickly joined me, and as we’d been trained, we started CPR. The ambulance came in about five minutes. They emptied two drug boxes working on the man, and defibrillated him 10 times. He actually opened his eyes after about the sixth time and spoke, but unfortunately he went out again.”
He added, “We found out later that he didn’t pull through. This was tough, yet I was really proud about how well the system worked. Two guards off the stands and meeting at the spot, the other guards up and keeping watch, the EMT call going quickly out. It was a sad outcome, but the guards did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
This reminded Darren of just how serious the job is for a beach patrol guard. Darren stayed with the Ocean City Beach Patrol through the summer of 1983. After he finished college at Syracuse, he ventured out to Los Angeles for the next 16 years. Then, unlike a lot of his fellow guards who continually traveled west to follow the sun and surf, Darren chose another path. “I moved to Iceland in 2001 and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
At least he’s still at a beach.
Darren Foreman makes his home in Reykjavik where he teaches acting and hosts a show on Radio Iceland.