Eric Sturm: Lifeguard Monterey District

Eric Sturm, Lifeguard Monterey District of California State Parks

California State Park Lifeguard Eric Sturm
Up Close and Personal

What is your most unique experience working in California State Parks?

As a California Lifeguard, my most unique experience is one that never happened.  I was on the travel team to help the folks in Hurricane Katrina.  We got geared up with equipment, vehicles, vaccinations, food, and water, etc, and then were never deployed.  The operations had enough help, so we were cancelled.  It got me seriously thinking “How would a Lifeguard have full body protection from harshly contaminated waters, but not overheat in 100 degree temperatures?”  That would have been an interesting experience.

What is the biggest challenge that you want the public to understand about
your profession?

Lifeguards can’t be everywhere all the time.  If you’re even going near the water, there is a certain amount of personal accountability you need to recognize.  Your safety starts with you.

What or who inspired you to pursue this career?

My dad.  He was an ocean Lifeguard in the late 1950’s on the L.A. City beaches (before L.A. County took them over).  He was the “waterman” who took me to the beach as a kid and got me interested in ocean recreation.  I’ve been lucky enough to make a career out of my experiences.

Is there something in your career that you would do over if given the chance?

No.  I’ve had an amazing amount of opportunities and experiences in my work with CA State Parks.  I’ve gotten to do a lot of training, a lot of inter-agency teaching, and a lot of responding to calls where park visitors were directly helped.  It’s hard to quantify those experiences.  I would encourage anyone to consider a career with CA State Parks. 

Any particular parks that are on your dream list to work at?

Any place in Tahiti ?; but unfortunately that’s not a California State Park.  After years of swimming in the cold Monterey waters, I secretly dream of warm tropical spots (who wouldn’t?).  I love our California State Parks.  I think working a large inland aquatic area like Tahoe or Folsom would prove an interesting experience. 

In the end, any California State Park would be a dream to work at.  And I’m lucky enough to be living that dream right now.  Learn how to become a State Park Lifeguard.