For the past 10 years, Los Angeles County lifeguards have joined forces with their peer agencies from up and down the Southern California coast to give a helping hand to lifeguards in Montañita, Ecuador during the extremely busy Carnival celebration. This year was no different, as recurrent Ocean Lifeguard Charlie Patch, Ocean Lifeguard Paul Mitre and Ocean Lifeguard Connor Virjee assisted the Ecuadorians in making nearly 200 rescues in five days.
Retired Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Joel Gitelson has helped out in the effort for five of the past seven years. What keeps him involved and searching for new ways to rally support for the lifeguards in Ecuador? “The love, appreciation and respect we receive from the lifeguards and the community for coming to work with them,” said Gitleson.
Large surf, rip currents and alcohol consumption during the holiday contributes to the strain on lifeguard resources on Ecuador’s beaches. The volunteers from Southern California provide training, assistance with rescues, and even delivered donated items for the lifeguards including whistles, rescue cans, uniform board shorts and automated external defibrillators.