Beach Patrol Creates Rapid Response Team
Ocean City Beach Patrol forms a mobile unit for evening rescues and announces extended hours at downtown beaches.
The Ocean City Beach Patrol recently created a “Rapid Response Team” to work with police and fire personnel on water rescues and other after-hours emergencies.
Four lifeguards will be stationed at the 12th Street Beach Patrol headquarters Sundays through Thursdays until 8 p.m. They will be equipped to respond to emergencies by personal watercraft or all-terrain vehicle.
On Fridays, Saturdays and holidays, lifeguards will be stationed at Eighth, Ninth and 12th Streets until 8 p.m. These are the only beaches will be guarded after the patrol’s normal closing time (weekdays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays/Sundays at 5:30 p.m.).
Nobody has ever drowned in water protected by the Ocean City Beach Patrol in its 114-year history. But near-drownings and drownings are more common after the OCBP leaves for the day or for the season.
A week of steady northeast winds earlier this month led to rough surf and rips that led to several after-hours and unprotected-beach rescues at downtown beaches.
Bathers have always been encouraged to swim only at protected beaches, and the formation of the Rapid Response Team will not change that. The team will not be providing lifeguard coverage from a stand on any beach, but strictly responding to emergency situations.
“The 'Rapid Response Team' is not intended to suggest that people enter the ocean on any unguarded beaches,” OCBP Operations Director Tom Mullineaux said. “They are being stationed at 12th Street to respond to any ocean emergency along with our other public safety personnel.”
Their extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays at the three downtown beaches do provide an opportunity for people to swim at a protected beach in the evening.
“The Extended Hours Program at 8th, 9th and 12th Streets has been well received by residents and visitors who care to enjoy the beach and ocean a little bit later on these designated days," Mullineaux said. "These remain the only beaches where bathing is recommended after the lifeguards go off duty on Fridays and Saturdays.”