In 2006, Schmidt co-founded Lifeguards Without Borders with Justin Sempsrott, a longtime lifeguard friend and current emergency medicine physician. The nonprofit organization offers drowning prevention and lifesaving training and development across the globe, with the goal of decreasing the burden of drowning through education and improving the science of open-water lifesaving.
Schmidt is also the medical director of Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue and the Volunteer Life Saving Corps, both of which provide lifeguard and lifesaving services for Jacksonville’s beaches, along with ongoing education in the community.
In the past, Schmidt also held trainings at the beach for emergency medicine residents at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville and local lifeguards. The training is scheduled to restart again this year.
“Residents spend a lot of time saving lives indoors and in a medical environment,” said Schmidt. “I wanted them to know how to save lives anywhere they are.”
During the pandemic, Schmidt and his colleagues had to think fast. Numerous internal collaborations occurred to discuss best practices for ensuring the safety of lifeguards and to determine when it would be safe for the public to return to beaches and pools.
“The pandemic taught us that lifeguards are important frontline workers who need to be protected,” said Schmidt. “They are sometimes overlooked, but they are your first line of defense when you’re at the beach or pool.”