NAME: MEAGAN PERLAKY

LOCATION(S): DESTIN BEACH, FLORIDA; SOUTH WALTON, FLORIDA

YEARS LIFEGUARDING: 10

I was born Jan 30th 1989 in Jacksonville, Fl. My dad was in the Navy so we moved around the east coast. I grew up swimming so naturally my first job was going to be lifeguarding. I had been a lifeguard at several swimming pools starting at age 16. But my real journey began at 21.  I had grown up swimming and running competitively and had just switched to triathlon. One of my triathlete friends told me that Destin Beach Safety was hiring. I applied, tested, and was hired.  I worked two seasons with Destin not really understanding the gravity of the job. It was fun and a good ”college job” at the time I thought. After college I had student loans to pay so I figured I would get a “Real job“ so I stepped away from the beach and started planning out my future.

After a six year hiatus and moving around a bit,  I came back to my home in the panhandle of Florida but this time with South Walton Beach Safety. Having traveled and tried several other occupations I found that I was an outdoor lover and a bit of a maverick in life. I was able to go to the USLA Southeast region training officer academy where I met many great influences, Jim McCrady being one of them. At that Academy I fell deeply in love with life-saving and a passion ignited bigger than I ever thought. I was sent to EMT School in the fall of 2019, where I became enamored with prehospital treatments. Now I am the training officer for USLA and EMR, in charge of hiring/recruiting, and PIO in training. I have a passion for teaching others about the great Profession of lifeguarding and I am determined to create awareness of lifeguarding as a career in the panhandle where the job is still so young.  I am proud to be a lifeguard and serve the public.

Something I want the next generation of women in Surf and Rescue to know is if you are ever interested in this field, you are already different. If you get through the training, you are a part of a special group of humans that run into the storm while everyone runs away. Embrace your difference, never take a day on the job for granted, and never stop learning more and growing.

Images provided by Meagan Perlaky.