On the north end of Malibu, the Angeles District State Park Lifeguards patrol approximately 15 miles of coastline.  For over 40 years, men and woman have patrolled the coast and protected all who want to enjoy the ocean from El Matador beach to Point Mugu.  In that span of time, there have been many hardships for the community of Malibu as well as the surrounding areas, and recently the Woolsey Fire has tested everyone once again.  Sweeping through several counties and burning over 96 thousand acres, the blaze swept through northern Malibu the night of November 9th all the way to the ocean in some areas. Leo Carrillo State Park was in it’s path, and the Lifeguarding program was hit especially hard.

Most of the facilities and storage for both the Lifeguarding operation and Junior Lifeguard Programs were lost in the destruction. Many of the essential supplies and infrastructure for the daily operation of the lifeguard program were lost.  Currently, the lifeguard operation is starting from scratch in an attempt to piece together a program in time for summer, when peak season brings thousands of visitors to the unique stretch of coastline.  Known across the state for it’s particularly resilient and loyal staff, many lifeguards are ready to return with the crowds and provide the same high quality service and protection to every visitor; but this year will be especially challenging.  

On top of staffing the lifeguard towers with medical supplies and making sure there is lifesaving rescue equipment for the more than fifty lifeguards on staff, housing the equipment both temporary and long term are proving to be a major concern.  Meanwhile, many items that improve the working-life of these lifeguards are going to take time to replace, such as uniform items and competitive equipment including rash guards, paddleboards and other surf crafts. The majority of the lost inventory was owned and handled by the Malibu Coast Lifesaving Association (MCSLA) while a few were personal items belonging to individual lifeguards. These items, which took years to accumulate, restore and maintain, were lost overnight.

The Leo Carrillo Junior Lifeguard Program is another group that was affected significantly.  A staple to the surrounding community, the Junior Lifeguard Program hosts kids from the ages of 9 to 15 for 5 weeks in the summer and has been operating at Leo Carrillo State Beach since 1985.  The program is dedicated to teaching local youth the essentials of ocean safety and first aid as well as promoting teamwork and competition through paddle boarding, swimming and many other activities. There there are many moving parts that that come together in order to make these memorable summers for the kids possible.  Many buoys, paddleboards, fins and other essential equipment acquired over the years through donations and purchases are now gone. It falls on the shoulders of the program to replace the necessary equipment in addition to building the facilities from which to run the JG operation. The community has already come together in a fundraising outcry to try and get the program back on its feet, but there is still much work to be done to be ready for summer.

If you would like to find out more about the local organizations involved with the California State Park Lifeguards or would like to help, more info can be found at their websites:

MCSLA: mcsla.org/donate