Thursday, March 1, 2012

San Diego Drowning Symposium to Present National "Lifesaver of the Year" Award


Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director and Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director, 517-643-2553

SAN DIEGO, CA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) is proud to announce that its executive director, Bob Pratt, won the “Lifesaver of the Year” Award presented by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the USA Swimming Foundation. The award will be presented at the NDPA Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina, March 7. [Members of the GLSRP will be in San Diego, Monday, March 5-10.]

“WOW this is amazing,” said Bob Pratt, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. “I'm truly honored. I really consider this as a team award – the result of a team effort. We have a lot of community support through residents, businesses and organizations.”

“Without David Benjamin's guidance and coordination neither Nick Rymut nor I would have been at the beach that day,” Pratt added. “Without the partnership of Third Coast Surf Shop and all of our other partners the class might not have happened.”

The nomination for this award was based on the rip current rescue in New Buffalo August 28 and the GLSRP’s 2011 tracking of Great Lakes drowning statistics, six “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and rip current awareness campaign along the coast of Lake Michigan

The 2011 surf rescue classes were taught to the general public, 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.

Pratt’s dedication for water safety will be on the forefront of drowning prevention throughout the Midwest in 2012 with 14 “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes hitting the Great Lakes beaches.

Pratt retired from the East Lansing Fire Department January 20th where he spent 12 years as a firefighter and paramedic and 12 years as Fire Marshal. He will now take the helm of the Surf Rescue Project full time.

“I'm writing a new chapter in my life, a new career. I'm really excited to see how much we can accomplish with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project!”

On August 28 approximately 30 minutes after teaching the “Water Safety Surf Rescue” 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. There’s links to pictures of the New Buffalo rescue and surf rescue class, and TV news coverage of the Grand Haven class below.)

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.


The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is a volunteer-driven 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization founded in 2004. NDPA members are dedicated to preventing drowning for all age groups in all bodies of water through public education, advocacy and strategic partnerships. The public is invited to join by visiting    


  1. Surf’s up, but Matteson man wants number of drownings down Feature Story , Photo Gallery
  2. ‘Lifesaver of the Year’ Award Winner Assists Rescue on FL Vacation
  3. Bob Pratt Winner of the Lifesaver of the Year Award
  4. Video: Hero from New Buffalo beach rescue getting national honor – NDPA 'Lifesaver of the Year' Award
  5. Fire Marshal Retires - Takes Helm of Surf Rescue Project
  6. Bob Pratt Lifesaver Year Award - Top 10
  7. Great Lakes drownings rise to 87 in 2011; a two-year total of 161
  8. Great Lakes Presenting at San Diego Symposium
  9. Co-Executive Director’s drowning experience turns into Rescue Project
  10. Chasing the chilling waves — whenever they can
  11. Video: Great Lakes surfers save drowning victims
  12. Video: Surfers to the Rescue 
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

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