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U.S. Lifesaving Service (Page 8)

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PracticeEach day of the week, except Sunday, the surfmen were expected to drill or clean. On Mondays and Thursdays, for example, the crew practiced with the beach apparatus. The surfmen had to complete the entire procedure of rigging the equipment, including firing the Lyle gun at a practice pole shaped like a ship's mast. When the district inspectors arrived, the entire drill had to be completed within five minutes or the man slowing the operation could be dismissed from the Service.

On Tuesday, the men were expected to practice with their boats. The craft were to be launched and landed through the surf. In order to have the men react automatically in an emergency, the boats would be deliberately capsized and righted. This was a great crowd pleaser, one observer noting that "no sight is more impressive."

The remainder of the week was taken up with practice in signaling and first aid. Saturdays were devoted to cleaning the station.

All of the drills, while not overly technical, were constantly hammered into the crew, which, in turn, insured that the men would react quickly and automatically during an emergency. This would pay large dividends when the surf was running and danger was high.

PracticeThere remained one other important duty that took up a large portion of the surfmen's routine, lookout and patrol duties. During the daylight hours, a surfman was assigned to scan the nearby water areas from the lookout tower. No seats were kept in the tower in order to prevent inattention to duty.

At night, or when the weather grew foul, the surfmen performed beach patrols. Originally, the patrol distances were set up so that the beach patrol would meet the patrol from its neighboring station, thus providing a good coverage for isolated shorelines. As more and more of the coast came under the watchful eye of the Service, it became impossible to provide such coverage. In the areas where overlapping patrols could not be maintained, the surfmen patrolled for five miles or more. At the end of his patrol, there would be a stake with a patrol-clock key attached. The key was inserted into the patrol clock and the surfman would be able to prove that he had completed the patrol.

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Last Modified 9/19/2013