Rookie Lifeguard Risks Life to Save Swimmer

A Seal Beach lifeguard put herself in harm's way to save a teen from being battered against the pier by the largest waves of the summer. The lifeguard is hospitalized. The teen, unscathed.

She may be broken and battered, but Hope Rolison is still a hero.

The rookie with the Seal Beach Lifeguard Department risked her life to save a teen, who was trapped under the pier Friday amid the biggest waves of the season.

“We had eight-foot surf that really snuck up out of nowhere because the forecast said to expect three- to four-foot waves,” said Seal Beach Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey. “She spotted a girl holding onto the pilings underneath the pier.”

Rolison was able to pull the terrified teen away from the piling, but that’s when the largest set of the day came barreling down on the two, Bailey said.

“She did exactly what she was supposed to do—she pulled the victim under the wave, but it was so powerful, it rolled them both a couple times,” Bailey said. Rolison was able to hand the swimmer off to another lifeguard just as another wave came in and threw Rolison against the pier. She survived the pounding but had to be hospitalized for undisclosed injuries. The teen came through the ordeal without injury.

Though Rolison’s first lifeguard season was cut short due to the injury, she’s still made a name for herself.

“She performed extremely well and courageously,” Bailey said.

However, Rolison wasn’t the only lifeguard to go to heroic measures that day.

That same day, a swimmer walked out of the water and had a heart attack in front of his son. The first lifeguard to come to his aid couldn't find a pulse. The lifeguard gave the man CPR, and got him breathing for a short time, but his pulse again faded away, Bailey said.

Additional lifeguards rushed to his aid and used a defibrillator to get his heart going. The man survived and is likely to recover, but if he had the heart attack anywhere else, he probably wouldn’t have survived, Bailey added.

“A lot of what we do is preventive, so as a lifeguard you never know if your actions would have saved a life. But on Friday, if we weren’t there doing our jobs correctly, people would have perished,” Bailey said.

“It feels good. As a chief, I am very proud of my lifeguards, especially this summer when we have had a large number of difficult calls.”

Marine Safety report for the week of July 29—Aug. 4

Rescues 48 Medical aids 28 Major medical aid 2 Stingray injuries 14 Boat rescues 1
Lisa August 10, 2011 at 12:30 AM
That's my girl!!!! We love you Hope<3Glad your OK!
Amber Barnes August 31, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Great job, Hope! What a brave Girl!
Dave Sweet September 20, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Lifeguards are finally getting the credit they deserve. Good eyes!


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