OCEAN CITY – Although the summer months seem far off as temperatures drop into the 30’s, the Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) is already gearing up for summer as it prepares for its first offsite test Sunday.
OCBP Captain Butch Arbin reported this week that the OCBP will be holding its annual strategic planning day on Saturday followed by its first offsite test at Salisbury University on Sunday.
The annual strategic planning day is held each year in an effort to gather several levels of OCBP leadership to review last season and set goals for the upcoming season. There is also a focus on new lifeguard recruitment and training.
This year the OCBP will be holding eight offsite tests, starting Sunday at Salisbury University and spanning across Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania through April. Local tests are also held in Ocean City.
“We’ve had a big push for Sunday. Our hope is that we get a lot of quality candidates so that we can fill our ranks early on,” Arbin said, noting the increase in advertising they’ve put forth this year to get a strong crowd of interested candidates.
Each year the OCBP is put to the task of filling the ranks of about 200 lifeguards. Arbin explained that fortunately for the OCBP, about one-third of the patrol is returning guards with five or more years of experience with the OCBP. Another one-third of the patrol is made up of returning guards who have been with the OCBP for less than five years, with the remaining one-third made up of new recruits. “We normally average around 50 new recruits per year,” Arbin said.
Although most of the emphasis for recruitment is done within Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the OCBP attracts guards from all over the world.
“We get them from everywhere,” Arbin said, noting interested candidates who have contacted him from California and Russia so far this year.
Saturday’s tryout will run three to four hours, but not all of that time is spent on intense testing. The first half hour is dedicated to educating the candidates on the OCBP as an organization.
“We want to make sure that we want them and that they want us,” Arbin said.
Offsite tests includes a 400 meter run in less than 80 seconds, 500 meter swim in a pool in less than ten minutes, simulated rescues, a medley of a 150 meter run, 100 meter swim, and a 150 meter run, and holds and releases.
“We plan all this so we can get all the people we need and hopefully we’ll fill our ranks early on,” said Arbin.
To read the full story and all the week’s news, see The Dispatch on Friday morning.