I find that all the news that’s fit to print, at least a lot of it, can be found at the meetings of the Seaside Downtown Development Association. Last Thursday’s event featured some exciting news about the city’s lifeguards and improvements in the semaphore system, an international signal system designed to save lives.
Semaphores are a visual system of flag warning signs that allow for communication along the shore. This year, the fire department upgraded the system, with new, large neon-painted signs posted at 10 city locations, in front of avenues G, K, N, S, U, and 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th and 16th avenues
“We use it as a beach warning system for information,” said Captain Dave Rankin of the Seaside Fire Department told the group. “We tried to put them in the biggest areas where people might see them. It’s a simple system. The sign says, ‘For emergency, dial 9-1-1 and pull rope.’ There’s a weight, it falls down and the ball goes up.”
Rankin, a Navy veteran, was hired by the city in 2012 and served as a beach lifeguard now manages the lifeguard program. According to Rankin, lifeguards act as first responders from the water up to the Prom, Rankin said. They are all trained in first aid and CPR, and more than half are volunteers with the fire department, including several EMTs and a paramedic.
There are two types of lifeguarding, he said, proactive and reactive. Proactive involves communication with beachgoers at the water and surf-line before an accident happens about potential hazards they could face. “Reactive lifeguarding means going into the water and hopefully, making the save,” Rankin said.
Swimmers, surfers and beach enthusiasts have no first line of defense against the many hazards that could await in Oregon’s waters: riptides, and the notorious “sneaker waves,” something of an Oregon phenomenon. “As a wave comes, it builds and builds,” Rankin said. “Waves come in sets, and the sneaker wave is just an extra wave that goes up a little further, with a little bit more power. They call it a sneaker wave because people have a false sense of security, it just comes up on them.”
Last year, Seaside lifeguards made 10 water rescues; this year, so far, there have been two water rescues.
It is hard to believe that Seaside and Cannon Beach are the only towns along the Oregon Coast with lifeguards. Granted that cold temps and cloudy skies may keep down the number of swimmers, but that hasn’t stopped generations of surfers, waders and lazy back-floaters from taking advantage of the Pacific waters.
The SDDA’s Executive Director Tita Montero commented that the presence of lifeguards is a real draw for the city of Seaside.
We agree — without question, anything that can be used to protect the lives and safety of visitors is a plus for everybody. Be aware of potential dangers, and in an emergency, pull the rope and call 9-1-1.
American Legion liaison Lou Neubecker of Seaside’s Post 99 led the Memorial Day observance at the Legion Post on Broadway. Former First Vice Commander Gary Lee Heller was the honoree at the Seaside American Legion Post 99’s Memorial Day service. He served in the U.S. National Guard from 1961 to 1969 and died July 3, 2014, at age 70, after being a member of the Seaside American Legion for 12 years. At the Memorial Day ceremony Monday, his brother Duane Heller, sister Jeannette Klefstad and lifetime friend Jon Marsh were escorted by Second Vice Commander Chuck Godwin to the bridge over the Neawanna Creek to lay a commemorative wreath in Heller’s name.
What we really took away from the event was the measure of brotherhood shared by members of the Legion and their ongoing support for veterans and their families. Clatsop County Service officer Luke Thomas issued an impassioned plea to veterans to seek help when it is needed, not when it may be too late. The Legion Riders were a welcome presence and a symbol of respect and remembrance, “in memory of those transferred to Post Everlasting.”
At a meeting of the SDDA in mid-May, Commander Neubecker invited the public to special events including the Lobster Feed, bingo nights, line dancing, dinners and more. The Legion is at 1315 Broadway St.; (503) 738-5111.
So let’s take a moment to honor our veterans on the anniversary of D-Day, Saturday, June 6, as we did on Memorial Day and do throughout the year.