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(12/P77) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today praised the efforts of six members of the Island Beach State Beach Patrol who participated in a Fourth of July rescue of four people who got caught in a rip current.

"I commend the quick response of all of our beach patrol involved in this rescue," Commissioner Martin said.  "The park's lifeguards are dedicated professionals who are well-trained in ocean lifesaving and first aid."

Beach Patrol members participating in the rescue were Lt. Chris Nye; Sgt. Brian Fisher; Sgt. Jason Tarabokija; lifeguards Stephen Rossi, Anthony Porzio, Nicole Haines and Katie Alvarez; and EMT Tom Delgaudio. 

The incident involved males ranging in age from 14 to 36, all from Philadelphia, and occurred around noon at Area 15 of Island Beach State Park. Area 15 is not designated for swimming. It is about three miles south of the nearest lifeguarded beach.

One of the males became trapped in a rip current that pulled him from the beach. The three others went into the water to help him but were caught in the rip current as well. A rip is a strong current that moves away from the beach and is very difficult to swim against.

"With the continued hot weather and anticipated large crowds gathering this weekend, it is important to reiterate to visitors of the park that swimming is only permitted in our designated, lifeguard-protected areas," said Island State Beach Park Superintendent Ray Bukowski. 

Rip currents are very difficult for most people to discern, according to the National Weather Service. They can be marked by churning or choppy water, water coloration differences, a line of foam or seaweed, or a break in the pattern of incoming waves.

The National Weather Service offers the following guidelines and tips:

* Swim only at lifeguarded beaches and obey their instructions.
* Never swim alone.
* Assume rip currents may be present, even if you don't see signs of them.
* If in doubt, don't go out.

If caught in a rip current:

* Remain calm; don't fight the rip current.
* Swim across the current, parallel to shoreline.
* When out of the current, swim and angle away from the current toward the shoreline.
* If you have difficulty leaving the rip current, conserve energy by treading water until help arrives or the rip subsides and you can swim toward shore.

The 3,000-acre Island Beach State Park is one of the state's most popular parks, with its natural beauty, parking areas, bathhouse pavilions with changing areas, first aid stations, and concessions.

For more information on Island Beach State Park, visit:

For more information and safety tips on rip currents, visit:
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