Aptos and La Selva Beach contain many beach areas which are used by both tourists and local residents throughout the year. Rip tides and swimming accidents are a critical public safety issue. The beaches are staffed by State Parks lifeguards only during the busiest months of the year. In response to this issue, the District established the Aptos/La Selva Surf Rescue Team in 2003. Several District members participated in multiple ocean rescue drills and developed an operational response system for surf rescues. Today, the Surf Rescue Team performs surf rescues on a regular basis and has become a vital part of the local public safety system.
Surf Rescue Training
Our swimmers pass a 40 hour USLA course, then have annual refresher training of 24 hours and must pass an annual swim test of 1,000 yards in the open ocean in under 20 minutes. Physical demands of open ocean swimming and rescue require that the team members remain in top physical shape year round. These outstanding individuals are full time Firefighters, Firefighter Paramedics, and Captains with Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District that add the rescue swimmer job to their regular work duties.
Outside Agency Collaboration
Our surf rescue team works closely with allied agencies in Santa Cruz County including Santa Cruz City Marine Safety, Central Fire Protection District water rescue team, California State Parks, Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol, and the U.S. Coast Guard.