One Response to “NB Lifeguards Conduct Sand Rescue Training”
June 15th, 2012
Thank you for an informative story!
About 20 lifeguards, firefighters and paramedics participated in a training exercise today focused on how to rescue someone buried in the sand.
“Just get in and start digging,” said Newport Beach Fire Capt. Arn Van Dyke. “You use any bucket you can get, take one from a kid. You just start to commandeer them.”
But there are many, many other elements to consider, he said. Rescuers need to make sure they don’t injure the victim, so metal shovels and tools and even steel-toed boots need to be kept from the rescue area. Sand needs to be moved further and further from the hole so it doesn’t collapse. Crowd control needs to be addressed as well.
“The key problems we found was pulling sand and having it come back in, and crowd control,” Van Dyke told the group, which included Newport Beach firefighters and lifeguards and Huntington Beach and Orange County lifeguards. “Crowds gather crowds gather crowds.”
If too many people are too close the the hole, more collapse could occur. Keeping them away, but busy helping to move sand from the area, is crucial, he said. When a victim is uncovered, rescuers need to tether them — not to pull them out, but to have a lead to them if they become covered again with sand. Medical aid needs to be available as soon as the victim is uncovered.
Newport Beach Fire Department’s lifeguards have trained in sand rescues for years, but formal yearly training began last year following an August incident when a teenage boy was trapped for about 30 minutes under sand on the beach near 54th Street; read our story here.
Paramedic Steve Martin, who attended today’s training, was at that scene.
“We uncovered his hair and forehead and then an ear, and it was blue,” Martin said. “I thought, ‘He’s dead.’”
The boy took a breath — but even then, Martin thought it was too late.
“Then there was another and another and another,” he said. The teen made a full recovery.
Once the victim’s face was visible, Martin gave him oxygen, and rescuers covered his head with a plastic bucket to keep sand out and air available until he was freed.
Van Dyke said sonotubes — round forms used in construction — will be kept at lifeguard headquarters, at Big Corona Beach and at the Junior Guards headquarters and will be brought to rescue scenes to protect victims. Besides lack of oxygen, burial in sand can crush a victim and cause other injuries, Martin said.
The training today was held on the beach near the Balboa Pier. Trenches had been dug ahead of time, one with a dummy victim partly buried and the other with the dummy victim entirely covered. The training took about an hour, with Van Dyke explaining that sand rescues always need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on the tide, the depth of the hole and more.
“It’s just a chaotic scene,” said Newport Beach Lifeguard Capt. Brian O’Rourke, who stopped by the training. O’Rourke worked on the August rescue and offered advice.
“Just get everyone on the same page,” he said. “Just get people organized. Everyone wants to help, but they might make it worse.”
Lifeguards have issued warnings about digging large holes and tunnels in the sand, and guards will tell people not to dig too deeply in the sand because of the danger of collapse.
In November 2010, lifeguards rescued another child from a West Newport beach after he was buried while digging a deep hole; read our story here.