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Surfside catches up with officials on National Night Out

(Left to right) Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Mark Winn, Malibu Search and Rescue Operations Leader Kevin Ryan and SAR Reserve Deputy Dave Pearson gather for a photo on National Night Out in Malibu. Suzanne Guldimann/22nd Century Media
Suzanne Guldimann, Freelance Reporter
2:08 pm PDT August 7, 2017

National Night Out is described as an annual community-building campaign that is intended to promote law enforcement-community partnerships and make neighborhoods safer. 

Many neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and safety demonstrations.

However, Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s deputies and Malibu Search and Rescue personnel who showed up for a National Night Out event Aug. 1 in Malibu West were greeted by a lone homeowners association representative who drove by to inform them that she forgot to notify the community of the event.

“The event started out as a way for communities to be introduced to their local police or sheriff’s department,” Malibu Search and Rescue Operations Leader Kevin Ryan said.

Ryan, who grew up in Malibu West, didn’t need an introduction to the community, but said it’s helpful for community members to meet the people whose job it is to ensure their safety, and for all emergency responders to get to know the communities they serve.

The deputies discussed some of the unique issues that Malibu emergency responders face, including the recent Topanga wildfire that necessitated a hard closure of Pacific Coast Highway on one of the busiest weekends of the year, and the record number of rescues in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area this year. 

Ryan shared hot weather hiking tips with the Surfside News.

“Take water,” he said. “And tell someone when you are leaving and when you’ll be back.”

The hot, humid weather has left the Malibu Search and Rescue team scrambling to keep up with heat-stricken hikers, Ryan explained. Many visitors, inspired by social media posts of the park, attempt difficult hikes without appropriate footwear, protective clothing, or water.

Rock climbers and divers are another major hot weather problem. Ryan described a recent rescue at Malibu Creek State Park involving a man who fell from the rocks above Rock Pool and suffered a serious compound leg fracture.

“It was our second rescue there that day,” Ryan said. 

Not only is the pool dangerous for divers, he said, but water quality issues make it a health hazard even for bathers who don’t dive from the rocks.

“I wouldn’t recommend swimming there,” he said. “We use a boat for rescues and try to stay out of the water.”

Ryan also recommends that hikers watch the time. 

“Know when sunset is,” Ryan said. “Make sure you’ve allowed enough time to get back to the trailhead before it’s dark, and take a look back at secondary trails you pass to make sure you know what the trail you took looks like.”

Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Deputy Mark Winn added that the temperature can drop dramatically at night, even in the summer. 

Winn also recommends locking the car before hitting the trail or the beach. 

“Most vehicle burglaries happen because the car wasn’t locked,” he said.

The hot weather has caused an epidemic of brush fires in the Malibu area; most have been small and swiftly contained, but that luck may not hold. The deputies explained that one way Malibu residents can prevent more incidents is to ensure that their weed whacker doesn’t generate sparks.

“Steel blades are a major problem,” Ryan said. 

As the evening progressed, one resident stopped by to make sure their neighbor was all right. Longtime Malibu West resident and Los Angeles County Lifeguard Scott Hubbell brought the officers iced tea. 

The only sound that disturbed the quiet was the chatter from a roosting flock of wild parrots. In a time when crime dominates headlines, at least one neighborhood enjoys peace and safety, thanks in large part to the City of Malibu’s often unseen but always present emergency responders.