Rotarians install beach rescue tubes

Posted on October 26, 2015 by Romi White

Rescue tube stations are popping up at public beach accesses on Navarre Beach — thanks to the efforts of the Navarre Rotary Club, which aims to reduce the number of drownings.

“There have been six deaths since 2010,” member T.J. Goulet told about two dozen attendees at this morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place at Summerwind Condominiums.

Around six members of the club labored over the weekend to begin installation of the wooden posts which hold the flotation devices. They’ve already completed more than half of the installations.

Club officials said it’s the first rescue tube project of its kind in Florida.

Former Rotary President Ed Carpenter learned of the rescue tubes after reading a Rotary publication which highlighted the success of a similar rescue tube project in Hawaii.

“I read it and thought, hey, we could use that here,” Carpenter said, noting fellow Rotarian Bryan Boney, manager of Walmart in Navarre, was instrumental in helping bring the project to fruition. “Bryan worked hard to get it (going).”

Current president Dan Sulger called the effort “extraordinary” and thanked Santa Rosa County and chamber officials along with corporate sponsors who provided support.  “We all came together and created this project,” he said.

District 4 County Commissioner Rob Williamson said the project held personal significance for him because he nearly drowned in the Gulf of Mexico as a child. “My sister came in and rescued me,” he said.

Navarre Beach Fire Rescue Chief Mike Howard expressed optimism the effort can help save lives but urged potential rescuers to also use caution, pointing out first responders often have to save rescuers who enter dangerous surf to assist others.

Howard said his department has made an unprecedented amount of water rescues so far during 2015. “Close to 75 or 80 – 35 in just one month,” he said, noting the department usually performs roughly 50 per year.

Williamson praised the rescue tube project, saying it exemplifies “what makes Navarre special” and will help make Navarre Beach a safer place.

Rotary rescue tubes

Rotarians and County Commissioner Rob Williamson celebrated the official launch of the Navarre Beach Rescue Tube Project at a ribbon cutting this morning.

Pictured left to right are: Area 1 Rotary Governor Leon Hirsch and Assistant Governor Innes Richards; Navarre Rotary Club Past President Ed Carpenter; District 4 County Commissioner Rob Williamson; Navarre Rotary President Dan Sulger and members Daren Thomas and Mark Boltz.


TJ Goulet provided a truck and trailer for hauling the posts. He’s pictured securing a tube to one of the posts.


Fellow Rotarians watch Goulet bore a hole to install a rescue tube station


The Rotarians work crew included: (standing L to R) Mark Boltz, TJ Goulet, president Dan Sulger, past-president Ed Carpenter, who first envisioned the project and Goulet’s nephews Cody and Will (kneeling). Members Kenny Wilder and Tom Guthrie also provided support during installation but are not pictured.