American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps (VLSC)

January 15, 2011 Comments Off on American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps (VLSC)

by Balazs Andras Khoor

I proudly served as a Volunteer Lifeguard with the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps (VLSC) in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The VLSC possesses a long and distinguished history as part of the American Red Cross, with a dozen volunteer lifeguards starting the first chapter in 1912 at what was formerly known as Pablo Beach. The 17 charter members of the VLSC were recognized in 1914 as the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps, Coast Guard Division No. 1, part of the American Red Cross newly launched national water safety program.

Over the years, many similar organizations were formed by the American Red Cross and later by the U.S. Coast Guard. VLSC in Jacksonville Beach remains truly unique is that not only was it the first such volunteer organization, it is now the last remaining in this proud tradition. The VLSC has undertaken volunteer service to protect residents and vacationing beachgoers for more than 95 years. During that time, the VLSC recorded 1,430 lifesaving rescues, 1,753 assists to swimmers in distress, and more than 25,000 first aid cases. It works out to 15 lifesaving rescues per year, more than one per month, reason enough to keep the organization going in perpetuity.

The VLSC operates on Sundays and holidays, utilizing a flag relay system that notifies members up and down the beach of conditions through different types of hoisted flags. Members range in age from 16 to over 60 and all undergone a rigorous training course and exam, ensuring a similar dedication to saving people’s lives. Today, there are more than 120 active VLSC members and hundreds of alumni, such as myself, who retain the proud title of Retired Surfman. The VLSC offers many valuable public education campaigns and training programs, such as an eight-week Junior Lifeguard Camp, Lifeguard Recruit Classes, and a child drowning prevention program, The Beach and Beyond. In order to learn more about donating to or volunteering with the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps, visit the website www.redcrosslifeguard.org.

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