The first surf patrol of the season started today (Saturday, 18 September) with lifesavers returning to the beach.

Although the Northern Beaches saw a return of volunteer lifesavers and professional lifeguards to all 21 patrolled beaches, the first day of the season kicked off with less than ideal beach weather and the Beachsafe website reported some beaches remained closed due to unfavourable conditions including Manly, North Steyne, and Curl Curl.

With expectations of large numbers of visitors to the Northern Beaches this summer as lockdown restrictions ease, Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales OAM says volunteers are well prepared to provide a safe environment for beachgoers.

George Shales OAM

George Shales

“NSW is blessed to have beautiful beaches, with many of them patrolled by Surf Life Saving NSW volunteers and our 129 clubs across NSW.

“We have invested significantly over time in member education and training to upskill our members and ensure our beaches are as safe as they can be, but we are also imploring the public to know their limits and to avoid placing themselves or their families in harm’s way unnecessarily,” said Mr Shales.

Across NSW, Surf Life Saving Clubs have COVID safety measures in place to protect volunteers, including a large scale rollout of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of face masks, gloves, eye protection and sanitiser. Modified training, first aid and CPR procedures are also in place and it has been recommended to clubs to reduce the number of lifesavers on patrol for the time being.

“The safety of our members is paramount, however we are concerned that if lifesavers are not present on our beaches, lives will be lost. While it’s not an ideal start to the season in many ways, we are confident the measures we have in place will enable lifesavers to continue to provide frontline beach safety services safely,” said Mr Shales.

Volunteer lifesavers will not be asked to enforce social distancing but Surf Life Saving NSW will be assisting Northern Beaches Council with real-time information on overall beach attendance and will help coordinate beach closures if beaches become overcrowded according to the limits set by the Summer Action Plan.

The role of volunteer surf lifesavers includes:

  • Identify the safest part of the beach to position the red and yellow flags
  • Patrol the flagged area and monitor the beach conditions
  • Conduct preventative actions and rescue people in distress
  • Provide modified first aid and assistance to people in trouble on the beach and in the water
  • Work with other emergency services to assist with incident response away from patrolled locations or outside patrol hours
  • Provide information to beachgoers about surf conditions, beach safety and beach alert or closure information due to restrictions (via the Beachsafe website or app)
  • Proactive communication to remind people about social distancing requirements as outlined by the relevant Public Health Order (PHO)

Last summer, a COVID interrupted beach season attracted over 7m visitors. Lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers from 21 Surf Life Saving Clubs successfully performed 669 rescues and rendered first aid to 3,590 people.

Volunteer surf lifesaving patrols will continue each Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday until Anzac Day 2022.

Image: Northern Beaches Advocate