nOver the years surfers have saved many lives at Grand
Haven and around the Great Lakes. They also have a good record of
participation with official agencies and other safety groups.
nSurfers are always out surfing on rough days, often in
the vicinity of rip current and pier emergency incidents and usually the first
able to respond.Fully-clothed,
uninjured pier wash-off victims can usually survive approximately 7
nSurfers have tethered flotation devices (surfboards) and
are experts at going through, over, around and under waves.They know the layout of the surf and where
to seek safer potential pick-up areas away from wave impact zones.
nPaddle rescue boards, which are very similar to
surfboards, have been used by surf rescue teams worldwide for almost 150
nSurfboards get into tight places such as next to piers
where other rescue craft cannot go and get a victim to more open areas where
rescue craft can make a pick-up.
nIn extremely rough conditions surfers are the only ones
who have the ability to make a rescue.This was proven at Grand Haven November 10, 1975, when three Grand
Haven surfers battled 14+ ft. waves in the dark for an hour and a half
rescuing one of three boys washed off the south pier. They were awarded
Congressional Gold Life Saving Medals.
nAfter awarding the medals the Admiral of the U.S. Coast
Guard looked the three surfers straight in the eye and said:“We need your help.”
Smolenski surfing the south pier.
One of the three
Gold Life Saving Medals awarded to surfers for the 1975 rescue at Grand Haven,
at the same hour that the Edmund Fitz-gerald went down.
A Silver Life
Saving Medal was awarded to a surfer for the rescue of two boys off the pier
at Sheboygan WI in 1992.