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Meet Ed Castillo of Golden State Lifeguards

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lifeguard Chief Ed Castillo.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Lifeguard Chief Castillo. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
My interest in helping people in need started at a very young age thanks to a television show called “Emergency” and my time spent in the Boy Scouts of America. In fact I must admit that all credit is due to the Boy Scout handbook “first aid” section. I was always infatuated with first aid once I discovered it and absolutely loved learning about it. During my time in the Boy Scouts, I sought to earn all the merit badges and patches I could that had anything to do with first aid and water safety. Little did I know that I would eventually make a career out of that interest and affect so many people along my path.

It was July of 1980 at the age of 13 that my life was forever changed which contributed to my career path. It was at a picnic with friends and family at Balboa Park that I had witnessed my Mother and her best friend struck by a drunk driver who was fleeing LAPD after robbing a liquor store while we were roller skating on a path near the park on Woodley Ave. It all seemed so surreal! As I tried to quickly take my skates off and run over to them to see if I could help, it was then that a family friend held me back despite my objections. I told him that I knew first aid, but I was not allowed to help. From that fateful day, I decided that I wanted to be able to help those who were in medical need and to make an impact. This incident made the front page of the “Green Sheet” newspaper and highlighted the need for stricter consequences for intoxicated drivers.

My career began in 1985 when I was first introduced to the Los Angeles County Fire Department Explorer program through a high school counselor as a junior. After my first ride-a-long, I was hooked and knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I soon made it my quest to learn as much as I could about the job of firefighting and emergency medical services. The Explorer program allowed me to see first hand the positive impact that firefighters and paramedics made in lives of people. It also allowed me to accept the fact that although we try, not everyone can be saved.

In the Fall of 1986 during my senior year in high school, a counselor suggested I enroll in a free EMT course through the Regional Occupational Program which I did. After a full semester and hours of training, I finally received my Los Angeles County EMT certification. Now I was ready to start doing what I was destined to do.

Soon after graduating high school I was able to secure a job with an ambulance company and was able to assist Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics on scene and during transport of patients. This is where I learned about the job and where I made a lifetime commitment to this career. Over the years, I have worked for various ambulance companies as a first responder and then went on to work as a private firefighter in Kern County. Additionally I also worked as part of a racetrack safety team at Willow Springs Raceway and at LACR.

Over the years I went on to train as a tactical medic, trained in water rescue, wilderness EMS, wildland firefighting and so many other subjects.

In 2005, I decided that I wanted to do something different where I could make an even bigger impact, and I happened to discover that there were really no private lifeguards or lifeguard companies in the Southern California region. As I looked into this, I discovered that many children were drowning at pool parties and that started a research project to see how widespread the problem is. I found that this was indeed a problem. I felt in my heart that someone needs to make lifeguards available for private pool parties and so I did this all myself, working as any events as I could do myself. I also discovered there were lapses of lifeguard coverage in the film industry as well.

In 2006, Golden State Lifeguards was established, and since then we have become one of the most requested companies providing pool and beach lifeguards in Southern California as well as production set water safety personnel. During the past 13 years, we have prevented a number of drownings at pools and at the beach.

We have also worked on numerous film projects with credits spanning 13 years. In addition to operating the company on a year-round basis, I also work as a drowning prevention speaker and work as a lifeguard auditor/consultant for major resorts all over the United States. I am also currently writing a book on today’s lifeguard issues and the rise of lifeguard negligence cases.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has not always been a smooth one, and over the years we have witnessed many competitors coming onto the scene. We also saw a rise in the number of freelancers and Craigslist lifeguards popping up making things a bit tougher, some giving the industry a black eye. Within the past number of years we have attempted to raise the bar and to improve the image of pool lifeguards at a time when many people have a perception that lifeguards are young and immature. Recently there have been many high profile drowning cases that involved negligent lifeguards furthering the challenges of changing public perception of lifeguards.

One of the biggest struggles has been that this has been a very seasonal operation but only within the last year or so we have finally been able to sustain a business on a year-round basis. California has the highest costs associated with doing business, and this has been a major struggle for us. We have to constantly evaluate and decide if we are going to stay in California or leave.

Lastly, another hot topic struggle is recruitment of millennials to the team. We have found it is getting more and more difficult to encourage 18 to 30 years olds to consider a job as a lifeguard which is also a gateway to a career into EMS.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Golden State Lifeguards – what should we know?
Golden State Lifeguards is a private provider of lifeguards in the Southern California region and we also provide professional production set water safety personnel. Our specialty is staffing lifeguards for pool parties and aquatic events. We are currently planning out the next phase of the company with expansion into the Las Vegas region, Arizona and Texas.

Our main focus has been on kids’ pool parties where drowning is a possibility. We are widely recognized by many of the schools in the valley and are often contracted for school-sanctioned events as well as working with some of the top rated event planners and celebrities. For many, we have become a trusted source for water safety earning the respect of so many of our clients.

We also offer aquatics management for large pool facilities that would rather outsource lifeguards such as country clubs, resorts, and private beach clubs. This is a valuable service to those who require the expertise of a company that can staff lifeguards who have been properly background checked and skills tested.

We are very proud of the fact that our team of lifeguards have a passion for protecting kids at pool parties or anywhere for that matter. We also pride ourselves on the fact that our lifeguards are older and more mature which is welcome by all of our clients. In fact many of our lifeguards concurrently work for many municipal agencies throughout the Southern California region receiving additional in-service training to maintain their lifesaving skills.

As I mentioned, what sets us apart from others is that our staff are older, mature and are dually certified lifeguard/medics (EMT’s & Paramedics) which means we operate at a higher level than others in this industry.

We also have the toughest recruitment standards as we expect the best. It would be fair to say that only 85% of those who apply never make it in the door to become a member of the team. Lastly, we have a very strict chain of command and accountability that no can rival in the private industry. This is extremely critical as our clients expect the best and that is exactly what we strive for.

Golden State Lifeguards is a national partner with, devoted to educating people about drowning prevention

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The secret to our success is being able to give the clients the peace of mind that their kids are being watched by true professionals.

We focus heavily on personal development and in-service training aimed at honing our water safety/rescue skills. We also believe in building dynamic and long term relationships with our clients.


  • Pool Party Lifeguard, 3 hours, $180.00 (up to 25 swimmers)
  • Aquatics Management – Call our Office
  • Production Set Lifeguards – $225 1/2 day & $425 full day
  • Full Service Pool Party Event Planning – Call our Office
  • Mermaids – Call Our Office

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