Blog: Questions about Rescues on Beach

The scenario was frantic on Monday afternoon as a pleasure boat flipped over on the North side of Packery Channel. Six people were in the water with one stuck underneath in the boat.

Lifeguards were able to rescue the victims and get them to the paramedics to be transported to the hospital with the help of firefighters.

“We had six people who were thrown out of a boat and all six are alive because of their actions,” said Corpus Christi Assistant Fire Chief Randy Paige. “I think their actions were very quick.”

While lifeguards went to rescue the group, several ambulances showed up on the scene, but couldn’t go to the shoreline because they don’t have four-wheel drive. It’s standard operating procedure for lifeguard and firefighter trucks to bring patients to the ambulances.

Because lifeguards were in the water, they didn’t have enough four-wheel drive vehicles to transport the victims to the ambulances. One beach-goer had to help out.

“Since lifeguards weren’t available in their truck to take them out, they did use one civilian vehicle to get one of the first patients off the beach,” Asst. Chief Paige said.

Some callers questioned why the Corpus Christi doesn’t have four-wheel drives ambulances. So we went to the to ask those questions of city leaders.

Fire commanders said those type of ambulances cost about $10,000 more than a two-wheel drive ambulance. Those vehicles are usually used in mountainous regions and wouldn’t be cost-efficient in the Corpus Christi for the number of calls they get on the beach.

They also believe there’s a safety issue when transporting patients on four-wheel drive ambulances.

“We may do more damage if they have some kind of injury than the pickup truck just to get them off the beach because there very rigid,” said Assistant Chief Paige. “There not a very good ride for the patient or the paramedic.”

The other issue is the sand on the beach. The drought, high wind and lack of a high tide have caused many problems this summer for vehicles driving on the beach.

“With the wind the way it has been, it has been extremely hot,” said Michele Thomas, who is the beach superintendent for the city of Corpus Christi. “Unfortunately, it’s been a continuing battle for us.”

Some criticized the city for not doing enough to make sure the sand is manicured to avoid so many people and emergency vehicles getting stuck on the beach.

“What we do right now is grade the sand to try to get it as compact as possible,” Thomas said. “So there are parts that are loose or soft .”

Fire commanders have made an adjustment due to the problems with the sand. They have placed two four-wheel drive vehicles at the two fire stations on Padre and Mustang Island.

“The sand gets very loose and it’s very hard to drive with any kind of weight on the beach,” Assistant Chief Paige said. “So we put those trucks out there. Anytime we get a call on the beach, they respond.”

For now, that what they can do when it comes to beach rescues. The only thing city leaders want is to see some rain and higher tide to provide them some relief, if there’s another rescue on the island part of Corpus Christi.

Manuel De La Rosa, KIII-TV,

To view story about the rescue and questions about the sand, go to the links below:


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