Ocean City Today
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Students, emergency room nurse on OCBP

Summer job new avenue for those trained in helping others, adrenaline junkies
By Kara Hallissey | Aug 10, 2017
Photo by: Kara Hallissey Lauren Reck, left, and Caroline Oakey are nursing school students who have both spent five summers as lifeguards on the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

This story is part of a summer series about Ocean City Beach Patrol members and their other jobs.

(Aug. 11, 2017) Caroline Oakey and Lauren Reck are nursing school students who have spent five summers as lifeguards on the Ocean City Beach Patrol, while emergency room nurse Diana Theobald is guarding the resort surf for her eighth summer.

“I love my crew and training new people,” Theobald said. “I am able to use my emergency room training and what is provided out here to help others. I’m an adrenaline junkie and like using my skills to help other people.”

Theobald, 23, is the surf beach facilitator crew chief, which makes her responsible for guarding the three designated surfing spots in Ocean City.

Originally from New Jersey, Theobald has lived in Ocean City for many summers (her father is Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald).

“I started out in the restaurant business and it killed me being inside,” Theobald said. “I wanted to be outdoors and always had a love for helping others.”

Since February, Theobald has been a nurse in the adult emergency department of the University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore City.

“I come down here from Baltimore on my days off,” Theobald said. “Why not come back and continue helping and training as well as helping out on the beach.”

Crew Chief Oakey, 22, has been a member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol for five years.

“I’d never worked at a job where your significant in other people’s lives and your actions make a difference,” she said. “When you make a big rescue, you just saved someone’s life.”

This is the first summer Oakey has coordinated the Junior Beach Patrol program.

“I love working with kids and I like changing crews every year,” Oakey said. “I like all the new challenges and challenging myself.”

Oakey, who is originally from Parkville, Maryland, decided the summer before her senior year of high school she was going to try out for the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

“I talked to the lifeguard on duty and found out they were having tryouts soon,” Oakey said. “I tried out at 17 years old because my parents didn’t think I would make it. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I turned it into five summers down at the beach.”

In addition, Oakey missed out on senior week festivities because they fell on the same dates as the surf rescue academy in Ocean City.

“It’s the people,” Oakey said. “Sitting next to your crew mates, which is your family. We see each other a couple of times a week outside of work. I flew up to Rhode Island to see Beach Patrol members. I get depressed when I don’t see the people here and have put certain things off to keep coming back.”

For the last two years, Oakey has been an emergency medical technician for the Cockeysville Volunteer Fire Company in Baltimore County. She also volunteers in the Pediatric Oncology department at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore City.

“That’s where I want to work when I finish nursing school,” Oakey said. “I like working in pediatrics.”

Assistant Crew Chief Reck, 21, also spends her fifth summer guarding the Ocean City beach this year.

Reck participated in the Junior Beach Patrol Academy starting at 10 years old and was a junior Beach Patrol instructor for two summers before passing the test to become a surf rescue technician in 2013.

“My favorite job was being a junior Beach Patrol instructor. I’ve lived down here every summer my entire life and I am always on the beach,” Reck said. “Once you start, you can’t really leave. It’s fun, the people are great and you are never going to find a more supportive work environment.”

“I should have done internships by now [but, instead she keeps coming back to the Ocean City Beach Patrol every summer.]”

Reck, who is originally from Manchester, Maryland, was encouraged to become a lifeguard from an early age by a family friend.

“My dad’s close friend was a lifeguard and we were always on his beach when I was a baby,” Reck said. “He told me I should do it.”

Next spring, Reck is scheduled to graduate from Castleton University in Vermont with a nursing degree. She plans to go to graduate school and become a nurse practitioner.

Recently, Reck completed her college essay on how Ocean City Beach Patrol made her want to become a nurse.

“There are a lot of different experiences and ridiculous things happen,” Reck said. “We are always doing something to help someone. And make different kinds of friendships.”

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