The public event will also memorialize the 13 people who drowned on May 5, 1918 at Ocean Beach including 11 WWI soldiers and sailors from Camp Kearny and Point Loma due to a mass rip current. Sixty people were rescued. The program will also feature selected musical tributes, a lifeguard paddle out near the drowning location, and historical reflections.
Wonderland Ocean Pub restaurant will host a reception following across the street at 5083 Santa Monica Ave. Arrive early, carpool, carshare, bike or take public transit as parking will be limited.
The book was authored by Michael T. Martino, who served as a lifeguard and aquatic specialist (chief lifeguard) of California State Park System. Award-winning Sunbelt Publications Inc., based in El Cajon, is the book’s publisher.
“‘Help’ is the most comprehensive history of any lifeguard service in the world and needs two volumes,” Martino said. The final volume 2 of the history (1941-present) will be released in 2019. The book retails for $19.95.
The history project was chaired by former Councilmember Byron Wear who served as a San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant in the ’70s. Former Lifeguard Capt. Nick Lerma (ret) began the history project that is currently coordinated by Sgt. Rick Strobel.
“This effort was made possible by hundreds of generous donors who provided more than $40,000 in project seed funds. In addition, more than $55,000 was raised by the committee and community to construct the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Bronze Statue and monument created by artist Richard Arnold in 2013, which has become a landmark in the Ocean Beach community,” said Wear.
Although City of San Diego hired lifeguards in 1914, they lacked adequate staff and equipment to prevent the tragedy. The disaster prompted the City Council to expand lifeguard staffing and equipment.
The City of San Diego Lifeguard Service has grown to more than 100 full time and 200 seasonal lifeguards who rescue nearly 6,000 people annually with a budget of $20 million. The San Diego City Lifeguard Service, a division of the Fire Rescue Department is known throughout the world as a leading marine safety agency. In addition to beach lifeguarding, the agency is involved in effecting cliff rescues, swift water rescues, boat rescues and marine firefighting.
“I am proud to represent some of the best trained, most prepared first responders to protect our coastline. I am confident we’ll continue to keep San Diegan’s and visitors safe. This book captures the importance of ocean lifeguard history,” said James Gartland, interim San Diego City Lifeguard chief.
The first volumes will be presented to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf.