Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, some of the nearly 63 million people that visit a Los Angeles area beach will help from emergency responders and several local agencies gathered in Santa Monica this week to recognize some of the lifesaving efforts from the past year.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division held a recognition ceremony at Lifeguard Headquarters in Santa Monica to highlight five rescues from 2017, including one on the Santa Monica beach.

Chief Deputy David R. Richardson Jr. said there were 16,000 medical responses on Los Angeles beaches last year and 9,800 rescues.

“The rescues we’re recognizing today demonstrate Los Angeles County’s core values of integrity, team work, caring, community, commitment and courage,” he said. “And also it’s apparent today that we work well with our partner agencies…”

Partnership and teamwork were a theme for the event that included recognition for the Good Samaritans that are often part of a rescue effort.

“Also we’d like to recognize those Good Samaritans that are out there and sometimes provide the aid that is needed to provide a positive outcome for those patients,” said Richardson.

Deputy Fire Chief Anthony M. Whittle said the exemplary nature of local responders was evident in the emotional weight of their stories.

“Today I’m going to challenge you to also add that the true value and definition of exemplary is the emotion that you feel as a service provider but also as a recipient of that service and today I think the stories that we have, the stories you’ll hear, you’re going to feel the emotion to truly define an exemplary outcome.”

The Santa Monica rescue occurred on September 3, 2017. Jonathan Penzner was bodyboarding between Lifeguard Towers 27-28. Penzner is a former Santa Monica resident who still returns to the local beach where he and his family spent many years. This time, as Penzner crested a wave he struck the ocean floor injuring his neck.

A fellow swimmer recognized he had been injured and helped secure him until the nearby lifeguards were able to bring him to shore. The Santa Monica Fire Department responded to the water’s edge with their specialized vehicles and the team effort helped bring Penzner to a nearby hospital.

“I want to say the guys who took care of me were fantastic,” said Penzner. “I can’t express my appreciation enough.”

In the second case, a woman noticed a lifeguard unconscious outside their tower. Her quick notification to emergency services and the response of local ambulance services helped the lifeguard receive vital treatment.

In two occasions, the teamwork helped save lives in Manhattan Beach. In the first case, responders aided in the recovery of a man found unconscious in his beach chair and in the second, Good Samaritans helped save the life of a man injured while surfing.

In the final case, a multi-agency response saved the life of a man in the Avalon harbor on Catalina Island. According to officials, the 70-year old man had to be removed from his boat but before reaching the hospital, he experienced a heart attack. Responders revived him three times before he was transported.

In describing the Santa Moncia rescue, Ocean Lifeguard Captain Brent Katzer said successful rescues were the result of a strong chain of individuals.

“One thing that’s great about this was teamwork,” he said. “The teamwork started before the EMS personal arrived, it started with the good Samaritans. We had a person who was injured, another person saw that person was injured and needed help and that began that chain of a rescue effort by helping that person …”

The individuals recognized include:

Santa Monica Beach Neck Injury

Lifeguards Brent Katzer, Mike Murphy, Chad Carvin, Brandon Leon. Firefighters Matt Norris, Matthew Bailey, Kenny Harrell, Jeff Venezio, Bryce Johnson, Jacob Farley, Bryant Stone and Michael Linares.
Lifeguard Injury

Lifeguards Erik Wylie, Todd Ribera and Lauren McNulty. Firefighters Alvin Brewer, Kevin Kinney, Cole Kahle, Alex Abdalla, Armando Bonilla, Kyle Price, Kevin Jimenez, Jonathan Guardado and Brian Jordan. EMTs Chris Nease and Kyle Plank. Good Samaritans Douglas Calderon and Aurelia Lelegard.
Manhattan Beach Neck Injury

Lifeguards Eric Howell, Matt Shafer, Jamie Orr and Ian Christensen. Good Samaritans Rupert Smith and Scott Whitehead.
Manhattan Beach rescue

Lifeguards Tim McNulty, Will Didinger, Brandon Saliba, Richard Carmona, Davis Pratt and Greg Lee.

Avalon rescue

Rescue Boat Captains Matt Lutton and Steve Powell. Lifeguard Sean Kennedy. Pilot Warren Messina. Firefighters Gary Black, Tim Gilman, Randy Bishop, Johnny Gray, Dave Long, Frank Minuto, Jorge Hernandez and Christian Cisneros. Avalon Harbor Master J.J. Poindexter.

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