Nothing can spoil your trip to the beach faster than an unwelcome surprise: an injury, a broken-down car, a sick pet or even a brush with the law. But in Ocean City, there's almost always a cure for whatever ails you.
If you're faced with a life-threatening emergency, do what you would do at home: dial 911. Ocean City's police, fire and ambulance service are always nearby -- which is one of the nicest things about vacationing in a town that's only 10 miles long.
In a beach emergency, you're in the capable hands of the Ocean City Beach Patrol. Lifeguards are positioned every 200 meters along the beach in summer, and they are trained to recognize and rescue swimmers in distress and perform CPR or first aid if necessary.
They're equipped with semaphore signaling and radios, forming an end-to-end beach network which, among other things, located 1,000 lost children last summer. They also can summon an emergency medical technician for swimmers or sunbathers who are injured or who suddenly become ill.
For virtually every kind of crisis, someone in Ocean City can help. All you need to know is who to call.
Unfortunately, one favorite service among vacationers -- the Doctors Housecall Network -- has become a victim of its own popularity and no longer makes house calls.
"We got so busy, we couldn't cover both ends," explains Barbara Horn, office manager of the 75th Street Medical Center, which provided the service the past three summers. The medical center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during the summer season. No appointment is necessary. For information, call 524-0075.
During the season, around-the-clock service also is provided by the Peninsula General Health Services center at 66th Street and Coastal Highway (524-4300) and the 93rd Street Medical Center (524-SICK). Daytime health problems can be treated at the Ocean City Medical Center, located at 10th Street and Philadelphia Avenue (289-6241) or the Coastal Medical Center at 6300 Coastal Highway (524-WELL).
Although a campaign is under way to fund a new hospital in Berlin, patients with serious injuries or illnesses now are transported by ambulance or helicopter to Peninsula General Medical Center in Salisbury for treatment.
Just like the holidays, vacations often can be stressful for people with emotional problems. They may find themselves depressed amid a sea of happy tourists, or may consider indulging in an addiction they've been trying to beat.
"I remember a client who was vacationing here from New York, calling in tears," says Margaret DePriest, a licensed clinical social worker who operates the Coastal Therapy Center. "I see people on an emergency basis, and also do counseling for young people who come down to work here for the season and find themselves having problems." Her number is 250-1196.
The Worcester County Health Department provides a number of services for people whose mental health problems won't wait until they're back at home. Call 289-LIVE for referral to the county's drug, alcohol or AIDS counseling.
Ocean City also has regular meetings of many self-help groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon. For a schedule of meetings, call 289-6400.
You packed your swimsuit, you packed your suntan lotion, you even packed that trashy novel you've been waiting to tear into. But you forgot the medication you absolutely must take every day. Stanley McCabe knows you.
"It happens all the time," says the druggist at Bailey's Pharmacy, which is located at Eighth Street and Philadelphia Avenue (289-8191). If you have refills left on the prescription, Bailey's can call your pharmacy back home and get a copy. If not, they'll try to contact your doctor. Another option: If you patronize a chain like Rite Aid back home, the local outlet may be able to punch up your prescription on their computer.
Other Ocean City pharmacies:
Edgehill Pharmacy, 143rd Street and Coastal Highway, 250-1819.
Peoples Drug, 119th Street and Coastal Highway, 524-5101.
Thrift Drug, 94th Street in the Ocean Plaza Mall, 723-2425.
Rite Aid, 115th Street and Coastal Highway, 524-3700.
If that nagging toothache is keeping you from really sinking your teeth into your vacation, you may want to visit the local dentist. Here are a few who welcome vacation visitors:
The 43rd Street Dental Center at 289-8828 is open seven days a week during the summer. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends by appointment.
Dr. Dennis Alban (250-1559) has office hours at 13901 Coastal Highway Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Armand Hall, D.D.S. (289-1010) has hours in West Ocean City seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gerard F. Ott, D.M.D., and Charles G. Haynes, D.D.S., see patients in Berlin Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.