OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Alyson Hammond Brabitz, Making The Beach A Home

OCBP Alumni Of The Week, Alyson Hammond Brabitz, Making The Beach A Home

(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 — It was the fall of 2002 when Alyson Hammond left her hometown of York, Pa. to start school at Salisbury University. She was excited to begin a new chapter in her life at college starting with joining the swim team.

It didn’t take long before her life would take a new direction; one that she had never anticipated. Swim team practice started and “one of the first weeks there, I found out many (swimmers) also lifeguarded in OC for the summer. They talked me into trying out for the following summer. I got a few other people to try out with me and the rest was history.”

Alyson joined the Ocean City Beach Patrol as the summer of 2003 was getting started. In those first early weeks, as the warm air hits the cold ocean water, the beach can often be wrapped in fog. It makes for very difficult guarding. She recalled, “My very first rescue was while on fog patrol. A little boy was struggling to get in. I was nervous because it was my first rescue and the other guards couldn’t see me. But, my covering guards came quickly and my first rescue jitters were calmed.”

Alyson recalls that the “beach patrol didn’t have a ton of girls on it at the time, but my crew had 4-5 girls on it. We were so tough and such good guards.” That toughness would pay off when she took on the extra difficult task of fall guarding. Patrol members who are attending Salisbury nearby, often return throughout the month of September, to help monitor the still crowded beaches. It was then that she had her “scariest rescue.”

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“The waves were huge and the guard stands were very far apart. At that time of year, the guards next to you don’t cover, you call in on the radio and wait for a quad to cover,” she said. “The person I was rescuing was struggling and we were in the impact zone and kept getting hit by waves. I remember him asking if we were going to make it. We finally made it in, but it was a tough and long rescue. I know that I definitely saved a life that day.”

For the next seven summers, Alyson would continue guarding and rising through the ranks of the patrol. She finished out her last summer on the OCBP as the crew chief of the Junior Beach Patrol, a wonderful program that teaches ocean lifesaving skills to young students. The OCBP also served as the backdrop for another change in Alyson’s life.

“I met my husband on the beach patrol,” she said. “Jeff (Brabitz) had been already guarding for three summers and had just been promoted to crew chief. He also attended Salisbury University and we had many mutual friends. We dated through all of my years of beach patrol and we were married at the end of my last season in October of 2009. We have been married 12 years and have three beautiful children. We’ll see if any of our kids end up guarding one day.”

Alyson and her family now live in Ocean Pines, although they consider the beach to be their home. She teaches at an elementary school in Berlin.