I initially wanted to join East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue (EHVOR) after a cold January surf session, on a big wave day, at Ditch Plains in Montauk. I was out in the waves for a couple of hours with only one other guy. Shockingly, after I came in, I was told that the guy I was out with did not know how to swim. I knew that if I ever saw someone in trouble in the ocean, I would do anything possible to help. I realized at that moment I needed to have better skills. I had seen East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue for years lifeguarding at various events and I was always impressed with their expertise and dedication. I love what this organization does and stands for; I had to train rigorously to become a member and I am honored to be one. I am currently a Lieutenant of EHVOR.

I am a writer, director, editor, filmmaker, surfer, trapeze artist, mother of a 19-year-old girl and now a lifeguard. I officially joined EHVOR in October 2017. East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue is a unique, year-round, 24/7, on-call rescue team that responds to all water emergencies from Wainscott to Montauk in Long Island, New York. It’s a 24-mile stretch, and we cover both sides: the ocean and the bay. We supplement East Hampton Town and Village Lifeguards in large emergencies, we respond to calls after hours, off season and unguarded beaches at any given time in all types of weather. We also respond to rescues that are far offshore. Each year we save many lives.

EHVOR is strictly a volunteer organization that is consists of approximately 66 active ocean certified rescue swimmers. Of the 66 only 8 of us are women but we manage to maintain a huge presence. Our girl squad, known as the Ocean Angels of EHVOR is super strong. We never complain and we show up more often than the men. We work incredibly hard to prove ourselves constantly. We also try to train frequently with each other so that we get more time on our jet skis and more time to broaden our skills.

EHVOR is called to emergencies that are reported to the Police Department (911). The Town of East Hampton funds our expenses and equipment.  In addition to responding to calls, we typically lifeguard numerous East Hampton water events throughout the summer, which include Paddle For Pink, Surfers Healing (surfing with children with Autism), A Walk On Water (surfing with children with disabilities), Numerous Triathlons, Distance Swims and many Polar Bear Plunges in the winter. I am honored to be a part of this amazing organization. It is the goal of EHVOR to waterproof the Hamptons!

One of my most memorable rescues was one that is off the record. Last summer I was surfing at an unguarded beach on a day where the waves were relatively small but there were some heavy rip currents. As a surfer we use the rip currents to pull us out past the break. For swimmers this is frequently the cause of drownings. I had a great session and just as I was coming out of the water, I heard kids screaming. At this point I wasn’t quite sure if they were just playing in the ocean. I threw my board on the sand and ran down the beach. In the distance I could see three heads in the water drifting rapidly east. I realized they were in trouble. I porpoised through the break and swam as fast as I could. Fortunately, all three kids were conscious and still above water. They were drifting quickly, couldn’t get back to the beach and were starting to panic, but were immediately relieved when I got there.  Assessing the situation, seeing that the children were competently treading water; I took the smallest child first and one by one cross chested each kid to shore. We ended up so far down the beach, nobody could see us. The children told me their mom was getting a surf lesson. I felt incredibly lucky to be there and to possess the skills to save them. It is the most indescribable rewarding feeling to know that I just saved some these precious lives.

Images provided by Alexandra King.