The So-Cal Surf Doc and Water Safety Guru
by Melissa LaScaleia
Peter Chambers grew up at the beach in Southern California. He was a medical doctor in the U.S. Air Force, and later, traveled the country as a travel doctor, working in states like Alaska, Florida, Washington, Montana, California, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and North Carolina.
He first arrived in Myrtle Beach in 2014, and despite his extensive explorations of the rest of the U.S., kept returning to the Grand Strand, drawn by North Myrtle Beach’s beautiful shoreline and the friendly people.
“I grew up in Southern California with the Beach Boys and surfing— back when the beaches were clean and wonderful. The day I came to North Myrtle Beach and drove down Main Street, it was like I was a teenager again, driving down Main Street at Seal Beach.”
“I’ve traveled all over the world,” he adds, “and the beaches in North Myrtle Beach are the best in my opinion. I decided to stay here because I love how friendly the people here are as well. Everybody just wants to have fun and be at the beach.”
Today, Peter is an emergency medicine and family doctor working in Columbus County hospital, North Carolina. His family medicine practice is in Leeland, NC. Outside of healthcare, anything medical to do with water or beach safety is a focus and passion in his life.
He has worked as an ocean lifeguard since his youth, and still enjoys doing so in his off hours— occasionally prioritizing it more often.
“I took a full summer off as a doctor and worked as an ocean lifeguard for North Myrtle Beach life and rescue,” he says. “I established the North Myrtle Beach Lifeguard Foundation as a nonprofit, which brings awareness about ocean safety to the community, and raises funds for the North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue department.”
Peter himself has purchased and donated medical supplies as well as lifeguard towers for the department. The author of several books, he donates all proceeds from sales to the foundation. His first book was called, Lifeguard: Beach First Responder.
“I wanted people to recognize that there are many first responders, but the ones who get overlooked the most often are lifeguards; they save lives and prevent mishaps just as other first responders,” he says. “But over the years, they have gotten bad press with unjust stereotypes like being pretty boys on the beach, looking for girls.
“But that’s not what this job is about. They are trained professionals who are putting their lives on the line to prevent drowning and promote water and beach safety. They provide programs for youth, they give talks in schools— they are a great group of people who don’t get the recognition that they should.”
Peter’s latest book, Beach Safety, published by Warren Publishing, is designed for 2nd to 5th graders to read alone or with their parents. His purpose in writing it was to give children and adults things to think about so they can have a safer day at the beach. Tips include such reminders as wearing sunblock; hydrate frequently; swim in front of the lifeguard stand; know the safety flags that lifeguards fly; and know your own swimming limitations— but presented in a colorful, fun, and engaging way.