Sunday, January 8, 2012

Whiting Surf Rescue Class Reps Great Lakes

Mike Killion, Great Lakes Surfer Magazine, Chicago, IL 847-337-9385
Mitch McNeil, Surfrider Chicago Chapter, Chicago, IL, 708-612-2813
Ryan Gerard, Third Coast Surf Shop, New Buffalo, MI, 574-360-3977Ian Jacobson, Great Lakes Board Company, Chicago, IL 773-575-4787
Bob Pratt, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, 517-256-4600
Dave Benjamin, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Media Relations, 708-903-0166

Whiting Surf Rescue Class

Representing the Great Lakes at San Diego Symposium

And “Lifesaver of the Year” Award finalist

WHITING, IN – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project’s "Surfboard Rescue Techniques" class hosted September 18 in Whiting by several businesses will be presenting its class at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s 11th Annual Symposium, March 7 – 10, 2012 in San Diego, California. The Surf Rescue Project’s, Bob Pratt, is also a ‘Top 10 Finalist’ for the NDPA’s “Lifesaver of the Year” Award.

Great Lakes Surfer Magazine, Chicago, IL
“It’s exciting to see the surf rescue class continue its courses and expand to the west coast and other areas around the Great Lakes," said Mike Killion, Great Lakes Surfer magazine founder and CEO.  "It’s a great way to introduce beach safety and rip current education to those who have not yet had the actual experience of being in a rip, or having to save someone who might be in danger.”

“It’s imperative that more people around the Great Lakes gain knowledge and experience on drownings and rescues,” added Killion.  “It's sad that people may die on the same day when others find joy and fun swimming and surfing the Great Lakes.”

Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter, Chicago, IL
“The surfboard rescue class is a great way to increase awareness and prevent the glut of Great Lakes drownings said Mitch McNeil, Surfrider Chicago vice chair. “Unfortunately I’ve seen people drown in front of my eyes. An inexperienced swimmer can panic very quickly in a rip current.”

Third Coast Surf Shop, New Buffalo & St. Joseph, MI
“The Surfboard Rescue Techniques class is crucial in helping to spread the word on the dangers of rip currents and water safety in the Great Lakes,” said Ryan Gerard, Third Coast Surf Shop. “It utilizes a crucial group of people who are very familiar with these dangers – Great Lakes surfers. By teaching local surfers and the general public, the police, firefighters, paramedics, and marine units surf rescue techniques, we can continue to work to reduce drownings in the Great Lakes.”

Great Lakes Board Company, Chicago, IL
“I experience rip currents every time I surf,” said Ian Jacobson, Great Lakes Board Company owner. “Got caught in a nasty one a few winters ago against a wall of ice and tore a hole in my wet suit. Everyone needs to be respectful of the lake and understand the type of power it can unleash.”

“Presenting allows us to bring the issues unique to the Great Lakes to a national forum,” said Bob Pratt, Surf Rescue Class Instructor.  “Our rip currents are different; they are caused by short fetch windswells, and our piers are solid structures that exacerbate the rip current problem.”

The Great Lakes have a short swimming season (typically three months), yet has a high number of drownings each year (87 in 2011; 74 in 2010; a two-year total of 161).

“Addressing these challenges at the symposium may result in greater interest by researchers and may also result in expanded funding,” Pratt added.  “The ultimate goal is and will always be the prevention of drowning by increased education and a culture of respect for the power of the Lakes.”

“We will showcase the broad range of efforts taking place in the Great Lakes region. While the region may be struggling economically, volunteer and non-profit groups have stepped in to fill voids caused by a lack of lifeguards and cuts to public safety and education.”

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project believes its class can serve as a national model bringing diverse groups of people together (the general public, surfers, law enforcement, and water rescue professionals) with the common goal of saving lives. 

The class teaches participants how to recognize the danger of the surf environment; understand rip currents (i.e. how, where, and why rip currents occur); how to survive rips; to know the “Signs of Drowning”; and how to use a surfboard or other flotation device to rescue a person in distress or in a rip current.

The first “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class for 2012 is slated for Chicago in June in coordination with National Rip Current Awareness week (full summer calendar coming soon).

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project’s, Bob Pratt, has made the "Top 10 Finalist" list for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance's "Lifesaver of the Year" Award.  Voting for the winner will be on FaceBook Jan. 4 to 31, 2012.  Click on the link below now to read the Lifesaver nomination and then click on the "Thumbs Up" image if you would like to cast your VOTE to support saving lives on the Great Lakes!  [NOTE: You can vote once every day until the 31st.]

“It was a tragic year on the Great Lakes,” said Bob Pratt, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project CEO.  “Eighty-seven lives lost are unacceptable.  In two-thousand-twelve we will be working hard to reduce these numbers through our water safety and surf rescue classes,” Pratt added.  “Knowledge is power, and we’re leading a huge education effort across the Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project hosted five “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” classes last summer in Michigan and Indiana.  There are currently 14 classes slated for summer 2012.  The first “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class for 2012 is slated for Chicago the weekend of June 2-3 in coordination with National Rip Current Awareness week.  (Details coming soon)


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    

MORE INFORMATION about the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is at:

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH – List of Businesses and Organizations is at:

In the News – Overall Media Coverage:

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