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Oceanside Lifeguard Division
The Oceanside Lifeguard Service provides public safety to users of Oceanside’s coastline and ocean waterways, from the Oceanside Harbor entrance to the south city limits, safeguarding 3.7 miles of beach. Beach areas include Harbor Beach, North Pier Beaches, South Pier Beaches, Wisconsin Street, Oceanside Blvd., and Buccaneer Beach. Oceanside has a harbor, piers, rock jetties and sandy beaches, all within a short walking distance, which makes us unique along our coastline.
The City of Oceanside was incorporated in 1888 with the Oceanside Lifeguard Service dating back to 1926 with the first Lifeguard. Today we have 85 seasonal staff and 7 full-time lifeguards. The Oceanside Lifeguard Service operates seven days per week all year. Throughout the summer months, our hours of operation are 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. During the winter months, hours of operation are from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Lifeguard services and special teams are a part of the 911 system and respond to after-hours emergencies.
Lifeguard Headquarters is located at the base of the Oceanside Municipal Pier, 301 North Strand. On the pier, lifeguards operate a communications or dispatch tower. Lifeguard responsibilities include water rescue of swimmers and surfers, emergency medical care, boat rescues, underwater search and rescue teams with the Oceanside Harbor Police, Swift-water rescue teams for river or flood emergencies, missing persons, and other related emergencies. Oceanside lifeguards also handle enforcement of Oceanside Beach laws and regulations through citation and arrest in assistance of the Oceanside Police Department. The lifeguard service utilizes a wide variety of rescue equipment to handle these responsibilities, including 4-wheel drive vehicles, rescue paddleboards, all-terrain vehicles or ATVs, personal watercraft, and inflatable rescue boats. Lifeguards also utilize a Lifeguard Rescue Boat that is docked at the Oceanside Harbor Patrol Dock. It is a Boston Whaler Challenger 27 model named Guardian 1.
Oceanside Lifeguards are trained in accordance with United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) standards. Many lifeguards are also trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) to provide emergency medical care for beach users.
In emergencies, Oceanside lifeguards can be contacted and dispatched by dialing 911. Informational telephone numbers include a recorded beach and surf report, which is updated twice daily, as well as program information for the Oceanside Junior Lifeguards.
Oceanside Lifeguards also facilitates a Junior Lifeguard Program during summer months. The program is aimed at youths from 9-16 years of age, and is an extremely popular program conducted each summer with annual attendance exceeding 800 students. Starting in 1949, the program has grown from the original four students and continued to provide the community and lifeguard service with knowledgeable ocean users.
The Oceanside Lifeguards began in 1926 with the first paid lifeguard at the Oceanside Municipal Pier. Due to the growth in beach attendance and water rescues, the City of Oceanside felt it necessary to provide safety for beach users. Rescue equipment was crude at best and often the lifeguard had no assistance.
Metal rescue buoys called “cans” were used by early lifeguards. Today, modern foam rescue buoys are traditionally called “lifeguard cans.” The rescue board was later incorporated into the lifeguard cache of equipment. The hollowed plywood boards eventually became the surfboards of the era. Early surfer legends such as Phil Edwards began surfing these boards as an Oceanside Junior Lifeguard. Later, technology provided lifeguards with equipment such as the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) and Personal Watercraft (PWC).