The 2018 International Surf Festival will honor eight Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguards for demonstrating extraordinary and exemplary bravery in the line of duty. These acts of heroism will be recognized at the ISF’s Lifeguard Medal of Valor dinner on Aug. 1, 2018.

In addition to the Medal of Valor, the Distinguished Service Medal and a Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented.

Medals of Valor will be awarded to Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Tucker Hopkins and Ocean Lifeguard Joe Rickabaugh.

Distinguished Service Medals will be presented to Rescue Boat Captain Chris Lallone, Captains Patrick O’Neill and Brandon Chapman, Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Greg Crum and Ocean Lifeguard Ignacio Pagliaro.

Retired Lifeguard Captain Dan Atkins will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We are delighted to recognize these individuals who demonstrated extraordinary acts of bravery,” said Rob McGowan, president of the ISF. “They rose to the challenge, and their heroic acts are the embodiment of going above and beyond the call of duty.”


Rescue Summaries:

Hopkins, Lallone and O’Neill will be honored for a harrowing rescue in large, powerful surf off Zuma Beach on June 24, 2017, where Hopkins — at great peril to his own safety — bear-hugged a delirious, incoherent and uncooperative swimmer during a rescue. Lallone’s skillful placement of the rescue boat, and with O’Neill assisting Hopkins during the rescue and with medical treatment, assured the swimmer would make a full-recovery.

Rickabaugh will be honored for a May 24, 2018, rescue of an unconscious surfer during 3’-5’ waves at County Line Beach. Though off-duty, Rickabaugh took command of the incident and placed the surfer, who regained consciousness, but complained of no feeling or movement in his arms and legs, on a surfboard and paddled him to shore. Rickabaugh provided appropriate medical treatment until the arrival of paramedics.

Crum and Pagliaro successfully revived a cardiac arrest victim on May 12, 2018, after multiple rounds of compressions and the use of an AED and oxygen. Additionally, they had to climb over a brick wall to reach the victim, as the rescue was off the beach near the El Porto parking lot.

Chapman led the rescue of a 14-year old male who had been buried by 3’ of sand and was having difficulty breathing on Venice Beach on February 11, 2018. Chapman’s rapid response and acute leadership were instrumental in the victim’s complete recovery.


Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Atkins has had a long and distinguished career as an Ocean Lifeguard, with numerous notable accomplishments both on and off the sand. He became a lifeguard in 1973, and retired as a Captain after 37 years of service.  Off the sand, as President of the LA County Lifeguard Assn. (LACoLA) he oversaw the integration of the Lifeguard Operation into the LA County Fire Department solidifying the public safety mission of the lifeguards. LACoLA also was instrumental in the transfer of title of the state beaches to the County, thereby ensuring continuity of lifeguard service and beachgoer safety throughout LA County.

The Medal of Valor dinner has been sponsored by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce since 1981. It has served as a signal to lifeguards that the public recognizes and appreciates their tremendous efforts. The bronze medal that is presented to honorees features a running lifeguard carrying the iconic rescue can (float).

“The Chamber is honored to recognize these courageous lifeguards, and to have served as the venue for the Festival kick-off for the past 37 years,” said Mary McKenrick, Chair of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated professionals protecting our beachgoers.” Redondo Beach is also the host city for the 56th International Surf Festival.

The International Surf Festival is presented by, the Chambers of Commerce and Cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance, as well as the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The ISF promotes the four South Bay beach cities, the world’s finest lifeguard service, and physical fitness for thousands of its participants. The three signature events for the festival are the Judge Taplin Lifeguard Medley Relay, 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.

Submitted by Adam Sandler ISF Media