FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 19, 2012
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director & Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director, 517-643-2553
Fire Marshal Retires and Takes Helm of Surf Rescue Project to San Diego,
Is a “Lifesaver of the Year” Award Top 10 Finalist, and
Will be representing the Great Lakes at San Diego Symposium
LANSING, MI – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project would like to congratulate Fire Marshal Bob Pratt for his 25 plus years of service with the East Lansing Fire Department. Throughout his career he responded to emergencies as a firefighter and paramedic and also became a member of the Fire Prevention Bureau educating the public, investigating fires, and conducting inspections.
“I saved more lives as Fire Marshal than I did as a firefighter,” said Bob Pratt. “It’s easier to prevent the fire from happening than it is to respond after the fact and try to control it.”
Pratt’s passion for saving lives will continue after his retirement from the fire department as he takes the chief executive officer position with the organization he founded, the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project” (GLSRP). The GLSRP gives Pratt an opportunity to return to his lifesaving roots as a lifeguard.
“Oh how I loved being a lifeguard. To actually save lives with your own hands. There’s nothing like it,” Pratt quoted from his friend and mentor Dr. Dorian Paskowitz’s book, “Surfing and Health”.
“As I transition to my new career, we as an organization can have a similar impact,” Pratt added. “The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project has a single goal TO SAVE LIVES.”
“Everything we do is pointed toward this end. All of the education, all of the data collection, all the advocacy, all the meetings are singularly united in the desire to save lives. Our teaching, our data, our passion will live on in those who share our common goal. For those of you who love the Great Lakes and drowning prevention, please consider joining us.”
The public is invited to Bob's retirement reception, which will take place today from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at East Lansing Fire Department Station 1, 1700 Abbott Road, East Lansing.
“LIFESAVER OF THE YEAR” AWARD ‘TOP 10’ FINALISTS
Bob Pratt is a ‘Top 10 Finalist’ for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s “Lifesaver of the Year” Award. Pratt will also be presenting the work of the GLSRP at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 7 – 10.
Lifesaver of the Year Voting is through FaceBook. To cast your VOTE, click on the link below, “Like” the NDPA Fan Page, and then click on the "Thumbs Up" image next to the “Bob Pratt Surf Rescue” photo (FYI: You can vote once per day till Jan. 31, 2012. Every vote every day counts.)
Pratt has been nominated for this prestigious award because his organization spent the summer of 2011 campaigning Great Lakes rip current awareness, beach and water safety, tracking Great Lakes drowning statistics, teaching “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” classes along the coast of Lake Michigan, and even a surf rescue in New Buffalo.
His classes were taught to the average beach goer, lifeguards, police officers, fire fighters, water rescue teams and dive team members. A member of the U.S. Coast Guard even attended the July 17 class in Frankfort, MI.
On August 28 approximately 30 minutes after teaching his “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class in New Buffalo, MI, Bob and one of his class participants, Nick Rymut, rescued a boy drowning in a rip current. (Nick made the initial contact with the boy and Bob assisted – teaching all the way. Rescue Pictures; Class pictures)
Nick, a firefighter and paramedic, for the Lockport Township Fire Department in Illinois was catching some surf after the class and immediately jumped into action when he saw the boy caught in the rip current.
The boy was displaying the signs of drowning in the thick surf – facing shore, mouth at water level, a terrified look in his face, and ‘climbing the ladder’ motion in the water.
Bob was standing on shore near a lifeguard stand speaking with a lifeguard and New Buffalo police officers when he saw the boy displaying the signs too. He then sprinted into the water to assist.
Lake Michigan waters can often have “washing machine” surf filled with flash rips, which creates a nearly impossible escape without some type of flotation device. In 2010, 74 people drowned in the Great Lakes primarily due to rip currents. As of November 30, 2011, there have been 85 Great Lakes drownings.
There are now requests for Bob to bring The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project’s, “Surfboard Rescue Techniques Class” to 14 cities on the Great Lakes in 2012 (Frankfort, Grand Haven, St. Joseph, and New Buffalo, MI; Michigan City, Portage, and Whiting, IN; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee and Sheboygan, WI; Duluth, MN; and Sherkston, Canada).
Bob’s dedication for Great Lakes rip current awareness, beach and water safety, tracking Great Lakes drowning statistics, and teaching surf rescue classes will be on the forefront of drowning prevention throughout the Midwest in 2012.
Voting is through FaceBook. To cast your VOTE, click on the link below, “Like” the NDPA Fan Page, and then click on the "Thumbs Up" image next to the “Bob Pratt Surf Rescue” photo (FYI: You can vote once per day till Jan. 31, 2012. Every vote every day counts.)