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Off-Duty Lifeguards Save Stranded Couple in California

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By Martin Ricard, AFSCME Council 57 Your Union Never Quit Public Safety

OAKLAND, Calif. – East Bay Regional Parks lifeguards are trained to protect people at the beaches, swimming pools and lagoons throughout the Northern California region. Once those recreation areas are closed for the day, those lifeguards aren’t expected to keep on working.

But that’s exactly what AFSCME Local 2428 members Jack Davis and Adam Fishbaugh did recently when they rescued two people stranded in the estuary at an Oakland park.

Their rescue was not only a sign of their bravery and dedication to the lifeguard code. It’s another example of how AFSCME members never stop serving their communities – even when they’re off the clock.

“It’s one of those things that just happened,” Davis said. “It taught me to be more aware and that anything could happen at any time. You just need to be prepared.”

Pictured are AFSCME Local 2428 members Adam Fishbaugh (left) and Jack Davis. (Photo by Martin Ricard)
Pictured are AFSCME Local 2428 members Adam Fishbaugh (left) and Jack Davis. (Photo by Martin Ricard)

Over the summer, Davis and Fishbaugh, both 18-year-old college students, work at Cull Canyon in Castro Valley. On a Saturday evening in July, Davis was just getting off work and Fishbaugh offered to give him a ride home. With the freeway backed up, Fishbaugh got off in San Leandro and started taking a side street.

As they went around a bend, out of the corner of their eyes, they noticed a man and a woman hanging on to what appeared to be a buoy about 250 feet offshore.

“We didn’t know what it was until we were even with them,” Davis said. “Then we just hit a U-turn and ran across the street to help them.”

Their lifeguarding instincts kicked in right away when they saw that the man and woman weren’t wearing lifejackets and were hanging on to the seat of a sinking jet ski. Davis and another good Samaritan grabbed one side each of the jet ski’s seat and swam to shore with the couple hanging on.

Fishbaugh was right behind them, helping to get the couple to safety and working with the Oakland Fire Department, which had arrived shortly after.

“I was talking to the lady on the seat and trying to calm her down,” Fishbaugh said. “My job was to get her on the rocks, pull them in and transfer them off to Oakland Fire.”

While the two young members take pride in saving the couple, they don’t see themselves as heroes.

As long as they know they have lifeguard training and have pride in wearing the lifeguard shield on their uniforms, Fishbaugh said, they have an obligation to help someone in need.

Davis added: “It’s what we’re trained to do. It’s second nature.”

Never Quit

Do you know public service workers who go above and beyond the call of duty? Nominate them for the AFSCME Never Quit Service Award.