Brit Horn: Lifeguard Russian River District
California State Park Lifeguard Brit Horn
Up Close and Personal
1. What is your most unique experience working for California State Parks?
In 1995, State Parks took over the operation of seven beaches in Los Angeles County. I was in charge of Pt. Dume State Beach at the west end of Malibu. Working in the Santa Monica Bay District was unique because we pulled lifeguards, maintenance and administrative staff from all over the state on short notice to operate the beaches. There was latitude to bypass a lot of the normal slow bureaucratic processes to get the job done. We purchased and outfitted vehicles, personal watercraft, other lifeguard equipment and first aid supplies. Lifeguards were transferred from all over the state and additional training was provided when needed. It was a great summer!
2. What is the biggest challenge that you want the public to understand about your profession?
Many people have no idea what a permanent California State Lifeguard does, especially on the cold Northern California beaches. We have to be trained and ready to respond to a wide variety of different situations. One moment we may be doing an interpretation program for a school group. The next moment we may get a call for an aquatic rescue, cliff rescue, vehicle accident or law enforcement detail.
3. Who or what inspired you to pursue this career?
I grew up in a very ocean oriented family. My father was a lifeguard for about 10 years in several agencies including State Parks. My older brother was also a lifeguard for 25 years, mostly with State Parks in the San Diego area. In the 1930s, I had a great-great-uncle that was a ferry boat captain on the Detroit River who saved many victims from drowning. I grew up surfing, diving, and sailing with my family, so seasonal lifeguarding seemed a natural job choice. One of my good lifeguard friends, Boe Stevens, took a permanent intermittent lifeguard job up at Leo Carrillo State Beach and Pt. Mugu State Park. There was a second position open and he talked me into going with him. That was a great move and my start into the permanent State Lifeguard ranks.
4. Is there something in your career that you would do differently if given the chance?
I think I’ve done and gone where I wanted to in my career. I’m happy with my choices.
5. Are there any particular parks that are on your dream list of workplaces?
I’ve really enjoyed all the beaches that my career has taken me to, from North San Diego County to the Russian River District in Northern California. As for other parks, I would love to travel inland and see more of the ones that I haven’t been to. Hopefully I’ll do more of this when I retire.