By Cleve Bryan
NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J., (CBS) — For many Jersey Shore lifeguards the summer job inevitably ends with moving into a unrelated career-field and telling tales of past glory days.
Some guards go into jobs like teaching where they can still dust off the whistle and man the stand each summer.
Then there are the very select few who decide keeping sand between their toes year-round is just too good to let go and they move parts of the country where the beaches are open year-round.
This is how Northeast Philadelphia native Nick Macko found himself on the beach in Southern California when the call came in for a great white shark attack.
Long-distance swimmer Steven Robles was in the water near the Manhattan Beach pier this weekend when a seven-foot-long juvenile great white which had been on a fisherman’s line bit Robles on the torso.
“I’m sitting here staring at this shark eye to eye,” Robles told KCAL9, “it was the scariest thing you could imagine.”
Macko says he was about 10 blocks away on an ATV when he heard the radio transmission for a swimmer in trouble.
When he arrived at the scene swimmers, surfers and other lifeguards were already out in the water helping get Robles to shore.
He ran into the surf and met the rest of the rescuers in chest deep water to give Robles medical attention on the way to an ambulance.
“We rolled him onto our paddleboard and saw the amount of blood, that is when we kind of put it together that we do have something real right now,” Macko told CBS 3 Eyewitness News.
Macko’s calm mindset and skilled techniques have been developed after many years lifeguarding on the beach, primarily on the North Wildwood Beach Patrol.
“I’m not surprised Nick found his way to assist in some manner,” says NWBP Captain Bill Ciavarelli.
Macko joined the patrol in 1999 and served over the course of nine summers.
He represented North Wildwood in lifeguard competitions as a swimmer and paddle boarder and helped out in the junior lifeguard program before moving to Florida then Southern California to lifeguard year-round.
“Nick had a very good work ethic,” says Ciavarelli, “he’s out there in California representing us very well, we’re proud of that.”
Macko comes from a family of swimmers. His father Ed Macko is a swim coach at Archbishop Ryan High School and Nick’s sisters Sarah and Melanie were also members of the NWBP.
“I was very happy that he was safe, and I was proud of him too knowing that he was involved in saving someone’s life,” says Nick’s mother Terry Macko.
Macko says that working with a team of highly trained professionals currently and previously in North Wildwood helped his confidence this weekend.
“That helped me through this situation and I think the teamwork and our ability to just work together really was a success,” says Macko who has been swimming in the ocean since the shark attack and tries not to think about great whites.
“I’m very comfortable in the ocean, I love the ocean and I’m going to be back out there swimming and paddling and doing my job everyday.”
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