New Book Authored by Former Lifeguard Chronicles the History of San Diego’s Lifeguard Service
San Diego, CA—San Diego is well known for its beaches, protected by the watchful eyes of highly trained lifeguards. It is hard to imagine that this wasn’t always the case. Michael T. Martino’s new book, HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue: A History of Their Service Volume 1 • 1868-1941, follows the evolution of the lifeguard services in San Diego, starting with the early pre-lifeguard years where citizens provided the aquatic rescues in bay and ocean. This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the history of San Diego’s lifesaving service.
The tragic event that spurred the growth of the lifeguard service happened on May 5, 1918. A rip tide resulted in the drowning deaths of 13 people, most of whom were soldiers stationed at Camp Kearny. An event commemorating the 13 victims will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station at the foot of Santa Monica at Abbott Street. The full details of this tragedy are fully documented in Martino’s book. Martino will be presenting the first copy of his book to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who will be attending the commemorative service. The May 23 event is also the official launch of Help!, which was 10-years in the making.
Serge Dedina, the Mayor of Imperial Beach, had this to say about the book: “Mike Martino has written a riveting and compelling history of ocean lifeguarding in San Diego that is an important look at the evolution of beach and civic culture in Southern California. Help! is a must-read for anyone who loves these beaches and the vital role of their ocean lifeguards in protecting visitors to California’s ultimate recreational destination.”
This very readable history of lifeguards along the San Diego Coast, is the most comprehensive ever written. So comprehensive, in fact, that a second volume covering from WWII to present is scheduled for 2020. Martino is uniquely suited to author these books as a former lifeguard who finished his career as an Aquatic Specialist, which is the Chief Lifeguard for the California State Parks system.
Commemorating the terrible event of 100 years ago reminds every one of the dangers of rip currents and large surf that continue to affect us today. As the beach season begins, what better time to review the ever important lifeguard message of beach safety that is so integral to the history of the profession. And, what a great read to take to the beach for summer reading. Martino will be signing books at a reception immediately following the ceremony on May 23.