Tuesday, January 3, 2012

About The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project

[Updated 01/15/2013]

Contact:
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director & Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director & Water Safety Expert, 517-643-2553

OVERVIEW
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) that tracks drowning statistics, teaches “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and leads the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign on the Great Lakes.  To support the work of the GLSRP, please become a member.  

The GLSRP will present a SUP Safety class at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance's 12th Annual Symposium, March 2013, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

It presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; was the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2011 “Lifesaver of the Yearaward winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.

TENTATIVE CLASS SCHEDULE - all dates to be confirmed soon.

2013 “Water Safety Surf Rescue” class dates and cities:
1. Sat., May 25, Port Washington, WI  
2. Sun., May 26, Sheboygan, WI 
3. Thur., May 30, New Buffalo, MI  (New Buffalo High School)
4. Sat., June 1, Portage, IN (Water Safety Expo with the Park District, DNR, Coast Guard, Fire Department and NWI Paddlers Association) 
5. Sat., July 6, Sawyer, MI (Two private beach homeowners associations) 
6.  Sunday July 7, 10 a.m. at WEKO Beach House, Bridgman, MI  
7. Leland, MI (Date coming soon) 
8. Cleveland, OH (Date coming soon) 

Possible Additional Classes in 2013:
1. Traverse City, MI
2. Frankfort, MI
3. Grand Haven, MI
4. South Haven, MI
5. St. Joseph, MI
6. Chicago, IL
7. Racine, WI
8. Milwaukee, WI
9. Duluth, MN
More…

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Since 2010 approximately 262 people have drowned in the Great Lakes (74 in 2010; 87 in 2011; and 101  in 2012). Rip currents can be responsible for one-third of the drownings. While the Great Lakes have a short swimming season (typically three to four months), it has a high number of drownings each year. Water safety, drowning prevention, and surf rescue techniques are a social responsibility.

THE GREAT LAKES TERRITORY
The Great Lakes are a large target market and vacation destination, which consists of eight states, five lakes, and two countries. Each year over 60 million people year visit the shores of the United States and Canadian Great Lakes (98 state parks, 39 provincial parks, and 12 national parks).

HISTORY
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project began as a group of Great Lakes surfers dedicated to reducing drowning incidents on the Great Lakes. Surfers have a long history of rescues along its coasts, and are often in the water when conditions are most dangerous: high surf and cold water. This group has expanded to include the general public, lifeguards, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, water rescue team members, dive team members, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project consists of four components:
1. The “Water Safety Surf Rescue” class
2. The “Third Coast Ocean Force” Rip Current Awareness PSA Campaign
3. Tracking drowning statistics on the Great Lakes
4. Accomplishments

1. “WATER SAFETY SURF RESCUE” CLASS
The “Water Safety Surf Rescue” class is open to the general public, Surfers, first responders, and professional water rescue personnel.

The “Water Safety Surf Rescue” class will teach participants how to:
·         Recognize the danger of the surf environment keeping personal safety as THE primary responsibility – Identifying hazardous conditions
·         Understand rip currents; i.e. how, where, and why rip currents occur; How to survive rips;
·         Know the “Signs of Drowning” – How to identify a person in trouble from within a crowd.
·         Summon help
·         Use a surfboard or other flotation device to rescue a person in distress or in a rip current
·         React when encountering swimmers who have suffered an injury
·         React to an unconscious victim
·         Enroll in lifesaving, first aid and CPR training from accredited agencies.

In 2012, 11 Water Safety Surf Rescue classes were held:
1. Sun., June 03, St. Joseph, MI
2. Sat., June 23, Frankfort, MI
3. Sun., June 24, Ogden Dunes, IN
4. Wed., July 11, Coloma, MI – Berrien County Fire Fighters Association
5. Sat., July 21 Duluth, MN
6. Sun., July 29, Washburn, WI – Tom Blake Board Across the Bay Festival
7. Sat., Aug. 4, South Haven, MI
8. Sun., Aug. 5, Grand Haven, MI
9. Mon., Aug 13, Coloma, MI [Private class]
10. Sun., August 19, New Buffalo, MI
11. Sun., Sept. 3, Sheboygan, WI

In 2011, Six Water Safety Surf Rescue classes were held:
1. Silver Beach, St. Joseph, MI (June 5, 2011)
2. Frankfort Beach, Frankfort, MI (July 17, 2011)
3. Grand Haven State Park, Grand Haven, MI (July 31, 2011)
4. New Buffalo City Beach, New Buffalo, MI (August 28, 2011)
5. Grand Haven High School, Grand Haven, MI
6. Whiting Park, Whiting, IN (September 18, 2011)

2. “THIRD COAST OCEAN FORCE” RIP CURRENT PSA
The Great Lakes are sometimes referred to as the “Third Coast” of the United States and the “Third Coast” can have "Ocean Force" rip currents when there are waves on the Great Lakes. Each Surf Rescue class provides an opportunity to cause rip current awareness through the classroom as well as media opportunities.

3. TRACKING DROWNINGS ON THE GREAT LAKES - GLSRP - A TRUSTED SOURCE
In 2011, whenever there were Great Lakes drownings, news Medias would contact the GLSRP for quotes on the water conditions on the day of the drownings, the current drowning statistics, rip current safety information, and any new developments with the GLSRP. On January 8, 2012, the Associated Press picked up our 2011 drowning statistics press release (as well as over 100+ Midwest Medias). Google “Great Lakes drownings rise to 87 in 2011” and watch the links populate!)

4. ACCOMPLISHMENTS
A. Selected to present at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

B. “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic.

C. Lifesaver of the Year Award
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project's, Bob Pratt, wins Lifesaver of the Year Award Presented by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the USA Swimming Foundation.

D. Presenting at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Symposium
The GLSRP will be presenting its work at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 7 – 10


PICTURES of “Water Safety Surf Rescue” Classes
  1. June 5, 2011 – St. Joseph, MI – Classroom and Water Session
  2. August 7, 2011 – Grand Haven, MI – Classroom and Water Session
  3. August 28, 2011 – New Buffalo, MI – Classroom and Water Session
  4. August 28, 2011 – New Buffalo, MI – Boy rescued from rip current
  5. September 18, 2011 – Whiting, IN – Classroom and Water Session
VIDEO


Bob Pratt Executive Director & Director of Education
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
517-643-2553, water-ratt@comcast.net

Bob Pratt retired as the Fire Marshal for the City of East Lansing, Michigan January 20, 2012 and is leading the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project fulltime.  He was also a paramedic / firefighter for 25 years and serves as the lead trainer for the department’s water and ice rescue training. He has taught water safety for several police and fire agencies in Michigan including Lansing Community College’s Police Academy. He has attended the Indiana River Rescue School, and zodiac boat rescue training. 

Pratt has served on the Health and Safety Committee for the mid-Michigan Red Cross for 20 years. He has been a Lifeguard Instructor, CPR and First Aid Instructor and serves as a subject matter expert for the media regarding drowning and water safety. He has served as a lifeguard and water safety specialist for many aquatic events including several triathlons, open water swims in Lake Michigan, and the National Championship 10K swim in Harbor Springs.

In 2007, Pratt founded the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project in association with the Great Lakes Surfing Association (GLSA) and began training surfers in lifesaving techniques.  The project also researches drowning, specifically rip current drowning on the Great Lakes.  He has attended several rip current conferences including the 1st International Rip Current Symposium in Florida (2010).  Pratt is a member of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and has attended their national conference.  He is also a member of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force and co-founder of the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign.  Mr. Pratt lives in East Lansing Michigan with his wife Cynthia, their two children, Jake and Corrine, and his Jack Russell Terrier “Buzzy”.


Dave Benjamin, Executive Director & Public Relations
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
708-903-0166, dpaulben@hotmail.com

Dave’s drowning experience was his inspiration to get involved with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He is a project manager, public relations specialist, and technical writer with degrees from Eastern Illinois University in English, Professional Writing, Creative Writing, and Business Administration.  He is also a Great Lakes surfer and a philanthropist interested in making a difference in people’s lives.  In addition to participating in the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, he created the Rich East “Multi-Class Reunion” and “Rockets Reaching Out” fundraiser.  With the mission, “Friends for LIFE!” the “Multi-Class Reunion” was created to reunite graduates and friends of ALL classes through bi-annual reunions.  The “Rockets Reaching Out” fundraiser component of the Multi-Class Reunion was added because alumni are a community that makes a difference with its classmates. The benefits of the fundraisers are awarded to a Rich East alumnus or family member of a Rich East alumnus to help offset medical costs due to illness or injury.  Recipients included a heart transplant fundraiser, esophagus cancer fundraiser, and bacterial meningitis fundraiser.

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