By Town of Kiawah Island for The Island Connection
The Town of Kiawah Island’s Beach Patrol agency, Barrier Island Ocean Rescue, has recently earned certification as a Basic Life Support (BLS) Rapid Responder agency by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
DHEC certification is most commonly sought by EMS and fire departments, but Barrier Island Ocean Rescue is now the first and only open water rescue/lifeguard agency in the state to achieve this designation. Practically speaking, this means that Beach Patrol meets the state’s standards for medical training, patient care, and required equipment necessary to operate at the level of Emergency Medical Technicians.
Meeting these standards enhances the quality of patient care and streamlines inter-agency coordination on medical calls from start to finish. Medical Director Dr. Keith Borg, and Assistant Medical Director, Dr. David French, have been instrumental in navigating through the certification process and providing guidance and training for their personnel. Councilwoman Maryanne Connelly and the Public Safety Committee also heavily supported this certification effort. Beach Patrol will participate in joint training with St. John’s Fire Department and Charleston County EMS in late April.
In 2015, Barrier Island Ocean Rescue was certified as a seasonal Open Water Lifeguard Agency through the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) and became certified as an Advanced agency in 2019.
Meeting the DHEC BLS agency requirements also makes Barrier Island Ocean Rescue eligible to transition from a seasonal classification to a year-round classification with the USLA. The year-round Advanced, Open Water Agency certification is the highest level of agency distinction recognized by the USLA. Pending application approval in the fall, Barrier Island Ocean Rescue hopes to make Kiawah the only east coast beach north of St. John’s County, FL, to meet these standards. Barrier Island Ocean Rescue currently provides ocean lifeguard services for the Town of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands.
The Beach Patrol model employed on Kiawah Island is designed to promote safety, enhance medical care quality, and effect skilled rescues without interrupting routine patrols, wildlife responses, and ordinance enforcement. Each Kiawah Island Beach Patrol member is certified through the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), the authority on open water lifeguarding.
Every new Beach Patrol employee receives:
• 48 hours of USLA preseason lifeguard training
• 44 hours of Emergency Medical Responder and CPR training (Several employees have advanced certifications as EMT’s or Paramedics)
• 4 hours of Beach Vehicle Operations class
• 8 hours of Rescue Watercraft training focusing on victim rescues and vessel maneuvers
• Daily opportunities for physical, medical, and rescue skills training
• Prescribed monthly training
• Code enforcement training
This article was reprinted with permission from the Town of Kiawah Island.