One rescue came in the dark of night on a rocky ledge off Palos Verdes, when two fishermen were in danger. Another lifesaving moment helped a 70-year-old sailor in trouble off Dockweiler Beach.
Up in Malibu, lifeguards helped save hundreds of homes, assisting fire fighters to ensure residents in the area were safe from the devastating fire.
Those were just some of the extraordinary acts Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguards will be recognized for during the Lifeguard Medal of Valor dinner in Redondo Beach on July 31.
Medals of Valor awards will be given to Ocean Lifeguard Specialists Shaun Gudmundsson, Ruben Carmona and Jon Van Duinwyk. Distinguished Service Medals will be presented to Captain Ryan Addison and Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Tim Ryan.
Ocean Lifeguard Dick Douglas will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ocean Lifeguard Bill Krauss will receive the inaugural Junior Lifeguard Award.
“It is our honor to recognize these individuals who demonstrated bravery and a selfless commitment to the safety of beachgoers of Los Angeles County,” said Rob McGowan, president of the ISF, said in a statement. “They rose to the challenge, and their heroism is inspirational and worthy of recognition.”
Gudmundsson and Ruben Carmona’s nighttime rescue happened on Aug. 9, 2018 when two fishermen became trapped in the rising tide and huge surf off of Inspiration Rock in Rancho Palos Verdes.
The dangerous rescue exposed the lifeguards to extreme ocean and nighttime conditions and the successful efforts of Gudmundsson and Carmona saved the men’s lives, according to a news release about the awards.
Van Duinwyk’s rescue came later in the year, on Nov. 29, when Van Duinwyk performed the hazardous rescue of a 70-year old man who was trapped inside his 25-foot trimaran sailboat as it entered huge storm surf off Dockweiler Beach at Tower 42, the announcement reads.
Van Duinwyk risked his life to enter the vessel, extricate the elderly man as the boat was breaking apart in the 8-foot, shore-pounding waves,” the announcement reads. “Due to Van Duinwyk’s actions, the victim not only survived, but was treated for only minor injuries. Just minutes after the successful rescue, the sailboat now on the sand was completely destroyed by the huge surf.”
Addison and Ryan’s Distinguished Service Award comes from the help they offered during the Woolsey fire. They were able to mobilized and organize residents of Malibu’s Paradise Cove community to defend their homes from the approaching fire.
“Through their knowledge and selfless actions, they managed to save hundreds of mobile homes that were threatened. Additionally, they bravely watched over the community for more than 24 hours,” the announcement reads. “Once the fire passed, they performed welfare checks on residents until fire resources arrived to relief them.”
Douglas will earn the Lifetime Achievement Award for his more than 50 years as an active recurrent ocean lifeguard. Not only has he saved countless lives, but he’s also known for upgrading the Junior Lifeguard Program in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Douglas is a third-generation lifeguard—the father of three LA County lifeguards and his grandson Jake is also an ocean lifeguard.
Krauss, who recently retired after 48 years lifeguarding, is earning the first-ever Junior Lifeguard Award.
“He is most notably recognized for his success in teaching, encouraging, mentoring and introducing hundreds of junior lifeguards and students into the LA County Lifeguards family. Bill is the longtime swimming and water polo coach at Valley College where he has been a teacher for 40 years,” the announcement reads.
The Medal of Valor dinner, sponsored by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, has happened since 1981. It kicks off the International Surf Festival, which brings together South Bay communities to celebrate beach and surf culture.
The three signature events for the festival, this year hosted by the city of Hermosa Beach, are the Judge Taplin Lifeguard MedleyRelay, the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim, and the Charley Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament. Other great events include a surfing contest, bodysurfing contest, beach run, paddleboard races, dory race, and youth events.
The awards will take place at 6 p.m. at Seaside Lagoon. Tickets are $20. More info: 2019lifeguardmedalofvalor.eventbrite.com