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Manatee County Marine Rescue named Florida's 2017 Beach Patrol of the Year

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MANATEE COUNTY – The Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association recently awarded its most prestigious award, Beach Patrol of the Year to Manatee County Marine Rescue Division.

The award goes to to the best agency in the industry in recognition of its elite public service to the community. The award will be presented in April at the 24th annual Florida State Surf Lifesaving awards banquet in Manatee County.

Manatee County Marine Rescue Chief Joe Westerman said every marine rescue agency in Florida provides top-notch service to the visitors of their beaches and every nominee could have won the award. Manatee County stands out from others this year, Westerman said, thanks to its innovative practices such as the county's new Marine Rescue Paramedic unit and Marine Rescue's role during Hurricane Irma. During that storm, beach lifeguards helped with traffic control, medical care, victim rescue and patient transport during the County's Level A evacuation.

"I’m extremely proud of every lifeguard who works hard for this Division ensuring the beaches in Manatee County stay safe," Westerman said. "The dedication they show to their profession every day is the reason we succeed. Although the division received this award, this is an award for our entire County and the leaders who recognize the importance of what our beach lifeguards do every day protecting the citizens and patrons who visit our beaches."

"Our Marine Rescue personnel work and train year round to ensure the citizens and visitors of Manatee County can enjoy our beaches and waterways safely and without worry," added Public Safety Director Bob Smith. "We’re very proud of Chief Westerman and the entire Marine Rescue team for earning this prestigious honor."

Manatee County Marine Rescue consists of 16 full time lifeguards, including EMTs, paramedics, rescue divers, Coast Guard captains and one certified Dive Master. They patrol Manatee's public beaches atop eight lifeguard towers watching over nearly 2.7 million people who visited Manatee's public beaches last year. At a minimum, Manatee County Marine Rescue lifeguards must swim 500 meters in less than 10 minutes, run a half mile in less than three and a half minutes and be able to rescue a victim who's 100 yards offshore.

On average, Manatee County lifeguards attend 150 medical emergencies, 80 water rescues and 2,800 "swimmer assist" actions each year. Marine Rescue also offers community educational events to promote beach and water safety, rip current awareness, marine life and hazardous weather conditions.

The Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association (FBPCA) was organized in 1983 and is composed of all the division heads of 38 Ocean Rescue Agencies across the state of Florida.

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow Manatee County on Facebook at and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.