Educational Materials

A free Project Wipeout educational DVD and materials are available to schools and lifeguard departments locally and throughout the United States. In Orange County, educational presentations by Project Wipeout and Orange County lifeguard representatives are provided to schools and community organizations. Call 949-764-5501 for more details.

Download Project Wipeout Materials

School Involvement

The Project Wipeout DVD is seen by thousands of elementary, junior high and high school kids every year. It is also used in many Lifeguard and Junior Lifeguard Programs around the country. Hoag’s Project Wipeout teaching packet is available free of charge to schools and non-profit community organizations. The packet includes a Wipeout Beach Safety DVD and a sample copy of the Wipeout Beach Safety Brochure, Activity Book and Coloring Book, which can be used in conjunction with the DVD. Hoag Hospital representatives and Orange County Lifeguards are available upon request to give Wipeout Beach Safety presentations to your class or group.

Lifeguard Seminar

Lifeguards are typically the first person at the scene of a beach accident, and victims with a suspected neck or spinal cord injury present a serious challenge to the rescuer. Administering proper stabilization techniques is vital in order to prevent further injury, and can even make a difference between life and death. For the last 32 years, Hoag has sponsored a Project Wipeout Lifeguard Seminar. It provides updated information on lifesaving techniques and equipment, first responder assessment and management guidelines, and issues such as water quality, potentially dangerous marine life and other topics of particular concern to lifeguards.

Community and Sporting Events

Project Wipeout has a strong presence in the community. Educational booths are set up at various community events such as health fairs, public safety events and large events like the Orange County Fair, reaching thousands of people of all ages every year with its beach safety message.

Neck and Spinal Cord Injury Information

Some common injuries that occur at the beach include sunburn, cuts, abrasions, burns from fire pits, and fractured or dislocated shoulders, wrists and ankles. Surfers are cut by their surfboards, skim boarders break their wrists and ankles when their boards stick to the sand and body surfers and boogie boarders injure their shoulders when thrown into the sand by waves. These injuries can be easily treated and the victim will likely experience a full recovery.

But neck and spinal cord injuries are a different story. While much less frequent, these injuries are permanent and sometimes fatal. Most neck and spinal cord injuries are caused by the tremendous strength of the ocean’s waves forcing your neck and spine into harmful, unnatural positions.

These injuries can occur in a variety of ways. When your body tumbles in the waves, gets thrown by the waves to the ocean floor or when your head spears into the sand, your head can be forced down onto your shoulders, pushed forward into your chest or pushed backward further than it can naturally extend.

The spinal or vertebral column is made up of irregularly shaped bones, or vertebrae, soft spongy discs, which act as shock absorbers for the spinal column, nerve tissue called the spinal cord which runs through the center of the vertebrae, and supporting soft tissue including muscles and ligaments. The vertebrae support the muscles and protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord needs this protection since the cord itself is only the consistency of pasta. The extent of damage from an injury varies depending on the degree and type of force that is exerted on the spine and how it impacts the spinal cord.

If the trauma is minor or moderate, it may only cause strained muscles or ligaments, or fractures that will eventually heal with treatment. A misalignment of the spinal column could result in pinching of the spinal cord accompanied by temporary paralysis. The victim may regain mobility as the pinching subsides, but it could mean a long and painful road to recovery.

When the trauma is severe, the vertebrae and discs between the vertebral bones can be dislocated or even shattered. This can put significant pressure on the cord, or even slice it in two. Similarly, ligaments that support the spine can tear allowing the spine’s alignment to shift, again putting pressure on or cutting through the spinal cord.

Once this type of spinal damage has occurred, there is little that can be done medically to repair it. The result is severe pain, paralysis of the arms and/or legs, inability to breathe without a ventilator, or even death.