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Publisher Surf Life Saving Australia, Locked Bag 1010, Rosebery NSW 2018, (02) 9215 8000 Project Manager Sarah Anderson. Commissioning Editor Selena Quintrell. Guest Editor James Turnham. Proofreader Helen Bateman. Designer Kylie Mulquin. Contributors Danny Adams, Sarah Anderson, Harries Carroll, Ken Clark, Neville de Mestre, Olivia Harvey, Eleanor Hilliard, LSV, Neal Moodie, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Neil Patchett, Selena Quintrell, Randwick City Council, David Reid, SLSNSW, Lisa Smith, SLSQ, SLSSA, SLST, SLSWA, James Turnham, Ken Wallace, Jack Wood, Nick Wood. Image Credits Danny Adams, Sarah Anderson, Bureau of Meteorology, Ken Clark, Shane Daw, Diamond and Rust Photography, iStockphoto, Korupt Vision, LSV, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Randwick City Council, Samsung Electronics Australia, Shire of Broome, Shutterstock, SLSA, SLSNSW, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, SLSQ, SLST, SLSWA, Sportscene, Transport for NSW, Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter, Ken Wallace, Jack Wood, Nick Wood. Our best endeavours have been made to credit the owners of the photos. Cover photo Glen Murray, Korupt Vision. Advertising Sarah Anderson

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Editorial In the Spotlight: Port Mac Supervisor Sets Sights on Historic Season Lifeguard Athletes Excel at the Rio Olympics 5 Minutes with ... Ken Wallace Moving with the Tide Lifejacket Revolution Partnership Clearing Black and Brown Spots View from Above New Australian Water Safety Strategy Targeting High-risk Blackspots On Set with Australian Survivor Emergency Response Beacons Streaming from the Skies Shark Management Strategy Surf Hazard Rating In the Spotlight: Randwick City Council Lifeguard Service Training for Rio National Coastal Safety Report 2016 (lift-out)

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Everybody’s Paddlin’ Rip Currents 5 Minutes with ... Jack and Nick Wood Injuries on Australian Beaches Mental Health Awareness on Lifeguard Agenda First Aid Training Lifeguarding in New Zealand Surf Rescue Training in Jeju On Exchange Honouring Outstanding Achievements DHL Lifeguard of the Year Rescue Recognition Pocket Patrol Time Flies Swimming Ability of the Australian Public Pilates South Bank Safety Initiative On Your Bike Lifeguard Snippets

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James Turnham, Guest Editor I feel blessed to have been born and raised in the beautiful coastal town of Port Macquarie. When I decided to leave town it was for work or study purposes, but have always ended up back in Port Macquarie. I grew up as a pool swimmer and competitive surf lifesaver, achieving wins in the pool at a national and international level. From these achievements I was awarded a scholarship to study and compete for Ipswich Grammar School during years 11 and 12.

off-season. It never hurts to have something to fall back on as we all eventually get older and slower, and lifeguarding until retirement isn’t that common! So, I highly recommend some sort of part-time study if you get the chance to be a seasonal guard.

My life seemed to be based around water, and straight out of school I was lucky enough to land a position as a seasonal lifeguard here in Port Macquarie with Jamie Martin—now a local paramedic—as my boss. I always looked up to him and was in awe of his job. Little did I know that down the track I would be in his shoes as the Lifeguard Service Supervisor.

Since I started lifeguarding back in 2003, working for a few different services including Newcastle City Council, I’ve experienced so many changes in the field. One change is the introduction of a GPS-enabled digital radio network. Not only does it provide a quicker response to incidents by being able to task assets that are closest to the scene, but it also allows constant communication between the guards, their supervisors and the operation centre no matter how far apart they are.

I’m currently 30 years old and I constantly look back to day one and think of all the opportunities lifeguarding has provided me. Firstly, with the role being seasonal, I was able to study during the winter months and gain a personal training qualification, as well as a double degree in teaching and health and physical education. This has led to extra work opportunities every year during

Secondly, it gave me the opportunity to travel. With summer in the United States happening in our winter, I was able to work two summer seasons in 2005 and 2006 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with some good mates. One of them was Scott McCartney who is now the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) lifeguard coordinator for the Northern NSW region. There are countless options and places where you can lifeguard overseas—you will make friends for life with the bonus of having places to stay whenever you decide to travel the world again!

We are becoming more and more professional as the years go by, especially in these digital times. How times have changed since the days of ‘beach inspectors’ whose role was to clean the toilets and mow the reserves while managing the beach!

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Port Mac Supervisor Sets Sights on Historic Season


easoned lifeguard James Turnham is entering his second summer as Port Macquarie Supervisor, but his first as part of the Australian Lifeguard Service.

It’s been a busy few months since the NSW branch of the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) was announced as the new lifeguard providers for Port Macquarie – Hastings Council in the winter of 2016. A mixture of casual and seasonal lifeguards have been hired, boosting the total number to 30. The team will also have access to rescue watercraft (RWC) and an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) during their patrols, which they have never had before. “We couldn’t be happier with how smooth the transition has been. I think the only thing the public will notice is the change in colour of uniform! We started our patrols on the six beaches we look after during the September school holidays and will be running through until April”, said James Turnham. “In recent years we’ve noticed that school kids are only getting about 20 minutes to swim before we finish up so we’ve extended the patrols an extra half hour, which will be fantastic as it will provide locals more opportunities to swim and could prove very beneficial during a hot summer.” A water rat from a young age, James Turnham’s introduction to the world of professional lifeguarding is a story in itself. “My first job as a lifeguard was at Town and Flynn’s Beaches back in the summer of 2003 when I had just finished Year 12. I was looking for work and was driving behind the Lifeguard Supervisor when one of his rescue boards flew off the back of his car.

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“I pulled over and gave him a hand and we started chatting. He mentioned that one of the guys had just left and asked if I would be interested in helping out. As someone who grew up as a swimmer and been involved in Surf Life Saving I couldn’t say yes fast enough!” The fitness and skills required weren’t a problem for the teenage Turnham but he admits of being terrified the first time he had to do an announcement over the PA system. “That was really hard but it eventually became second nature. I was really lucky coming through with a great bunch of lifeguards who took me under their wing and taught me many valuable lessons about beach management.”


Since then, visitors to local beaches have become accustomed to his laconic, yet authoritative tone blaring through the PA system. Other than his role as Port Macquarie Supervisor this summer, he is looking forward to his off-beach role as a community educator. “I really enjoy my on-beach work and being a leader within our team of lifeguards but a vital part of my role is our community education program”, he enthused. “During term 4, we visit 32 local primary schools to deliver our surf education program. The aim is to expose all our local children to


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Patrolled beaches include Town Beach, Flynn’s Beach, Lighthouse Beach, Lake Cathie Beach, Bonny Hills Beach, North Haven Beach. 386,325 visitors 137 rescues 258 first aid treatments, of which 29 were major cases Over 7,300 preventative actions* 42 beach closures—including shark sightings, dangerous surf, and storms.

Note: These statistics were from the Port Macquarie – Hastings end of season report 2015-16 and are for all beaches during patrol hours only. Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving Clubs supplement the Lifeguard Service on weekends and public holidays. *Preventative actions can also include beach closures.

the beach and deliver safety messages in an interactive and fun way. Some of the topics we focus on are sun safety, how to read and obey beach signage and of course, what to do when you get stuck in a rip current. “It’s really important that kids get access to this education and as lifeguards, it’s something that we enjoy delivering.” It’s shaping up to be a big season on beaches across the Port Macquarie – Hastings region and it’s a pretty fair bet that James Turnham will be out there somewhere with a smile on his face.

Lighthouse Beach




ixteen lifeguards or surf lifesavers represented Australia at the Rio Olympic Games in August 2016. Four of these athletes came home with medals, and eight were finalists in their events. Surf sports have proven to be an excellent training ground for Olympians. Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, 81 lifeguards or lifesavers have been selected to represent the Australian Olympic team. Between them, they’ve won 29 medals over the four Olympics. Alyce Burnett

Olympic Lifeguards In the Spotlight Alyce Burnett Sport: Canoe/Kayak Sprint Age: 24 Olympic Career: Olympic debut Lifeguard Service: Sunshine Coast, Qld SLS club: Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club Alyce began her surf sports career as a Nipper at age seven on the Sunshine Coast. At 15, she was identified as a potential kayaker. In 2014,

Alyce won a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships in the Kayak 500m. Alyce says, “Whilst working as a lifeguard with ALSQ on the Sunshine Coast, we were presented with new challenges every day, much like in elite sport. I also got the opportunity to work alongside a range of former elite athletes who gave me an insight into their career and work ethic”.

From the Editor Many young Nippers and cadets aspire to be like these athletes who can inspire kids to develop their competitive edge in any sport, and motivate them to train hard to be like them. Surf lifesaving is a healthy and rewarding sport that can lead to a job as a lifeguard or even to represent your country in surf sports— or both! Some of the best lifeguards and surf lifesavers have come from a surfing background, which has given them a great understanding of the ocean and how to read the surf. So remember that even if you didn’t do Nippers as a kid, you can still join a surf club and train to work on the beach—maybe alongside one of these Olympians! James Turnham, Guest Editor

Jordan Wood, Jacob Clear, Riley Fitzsimmons, Ken Wallace (back to front)





Alyssa Bull

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Women’s Kayak Double 500m

Alyce Burnett

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Women’s Kayak Double 500m

Jacob Clear

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Men’s Kayak Four 1,000m

Jordan Wood

Riley Fitzsimmons

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Men’s Kayak Four 1,000m

Sport: Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Naomi Flood

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Semi-finalist—Women’s Kayak Single 500m

Thomas Fraser-Holmes


Finalist—Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay

Lifeguard Service: Gold Coast Lifeguard Service, Qld

Mack Horton


SLS club: Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club

David Morgan


Bronze medal—Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay

Jarrod Poort


21st—Men’s 10km Open Water Swim

Murray Stewart

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Men’s Kayak Single 1,000m

Lachlan Tame

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Bronze medal—Men’s Kayak Double 1,000m

Jessica Thornton


Finalist—4 x 400m Relay

Ken Wallace

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Bronze medal—Men’s Kayak Double 1,000m

Jordan Wood

Canoe/Kayak Sprint

Finalist—Men’s Kayak Four 1,000m

Nicola Zagame

Water Polo

6th—Women’s Water Polo

Age: 22 Olympic Career: Olympic debut

Jordan’s parents were both Olympic paddlers, and he began paddling at a young age. In 2013, Jordan won gold in the kayak double 1000m and silver in the kayak single 1,000m at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. He won gold in the kayak double 1,000m at the 2015 ICF U23 World Championships.

Finalist—Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Gold Medal—Men’s 400m Freestyle

Ken Wallace Sport: Canoe/Kayak Sprint Age: 33 Olympic Career: Beijing 2008: gold kayak single 500m and bronze kayak single 1,000m; London 2012 finalist kayak double 1,000m

Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame

Lifeguard Service: Gold Coast Lifeguard Service, Qld SLS club: Tugun Surf Life Saving Club Ken has participated in four different kayak events across three Olympic games, winning three medals. He was Australia’s most successful male athlete at the Beijing Olympic Games. Following that outstanding performance, Ken was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). Ken’s career highlights are winning gold and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and winning five Taplin Relays in a row with Tugun Surf Life Saving Club.

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EDUCATION & TRAINING Jordan Wood and Ken Wallace

5 minutes with … KEN WALLACE


ver the years, Ken Wallace has brought home both bronze and gold medals from the Olympic Games, but that isn’t the only place he found gold as he spends his time at home training and lifeguarding on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Where do you call home? Gold Coast, Queensland. Have you always lived on the Gold Coast? No. I used to live down on the Central Coast of NSW but I moved to Queensland when I was 11 years old. How did you first get involved in surf life saving? When I first moved to Queensland I lived near the beach at Tallebudgera. I saw the Nippers down on the beach and asked if I could join in. I loved it and went from there. I was in the Tallebudgera Surf Life Saving Club for 2 years while I was in Nippers. I then moved to Tugun Surf Life Saving Club. I’m still a member today. How long have you been lifeguarding? I’ve been working for the City of Gold Coast for the last 15 years. I spend most of my days at Burleigh Beach, but working for the Council there’s the opportunity to move to different beaches.

"I only wanted to get my surf ski leg stronger so I started training in a kayak."

Did lifeguarding lead to kayaking, or was it the other way around? Lifeguarding and competing in surf life saving started my kayak career. I only wanted to get my surf ski leg stronger so I started training in a kayak. Does lifeguarding complement your Olympic training? Training for the Olympics is really a full-time job in itself. When I’m able to work as a lifeguard, it’s more of a mental break from training that I really enjoy. Also, just being at the beach and seeing so many happy faces makes the job so much easier. Are there any other sports you enjoy? I grew up in the swimming pool. I enjoyed the racing side of it, but training up and down the black line wasn’t that much fun. I now basically enjoy anything that involves a challenge and is in, on, or around the water. Do you have any hidden talents out of the water? Mowing the lawn! Obviously you’ve had some amazing Olympic achievements, but what would be your greatest lifeguarding achievement? Every time I leave the beach after work knowing that I could’ve potentially saved someone’s life. What’s your favourite lifeguarding story? It has to be every year when I dress up as Santa Claus and ride the lifeguard RWC into the beach and hand out sweets to all the kids. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 5 years’ time it will be 1 year after the Tokyo Olympics—I live my life 4 years at a time at the moment!

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MOVING WITH THE TIDE Be aware when the sea is at its most dangerous NEAL MOODIE, BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY


lot has been written on the dangers of big waves for people fishing on exposed rock platforms, but it’s also important to keep an eye on the tides that can sneak up on the unsuspecting angler.

While we’ve read about how large waves can swamp rock platforms, much less has been written—or understood—about how the tides interact with our shores, and can quickly impact deepwater coastlines, particularly when combined with heavy seas. The one thing that everyone agrees on—recreational fishers, local councillors and surf rescue staff—is that responsible recreational fishers should always study the sea before they fish. This means checking tide, sea conditions and weather forecasts before they leave—and then spending time watching the wind and waves, and talking to other anglers when they arrive. Experienced mariners usually have a deep-seated knowledge of the tides and meticulously study tide tables combined with

nautical charts to provide an accurate indication of varying water depths. But for rock fishers—often consumed by the vision of a giant bream, blackfish or drummer—the state of the tide may not always be at the forefront of their mind. The tide can rise by half a metre in just half an hour during the mid-tide—that’s the equivalent of having water washing around your feet, to having water up around your knees.

"The tide can rise by half a metre in just half an hour during the mid-tide—that’s the equivalent of having water washing around your feet, to having water up around your knees."

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WHAT CAUSES THE TIDES TO TURN Tides are effectively giant waves that travel around the ocean in response to gravitational forces exerted on the Earth by the Moon and the Sun. When the highest part, or crest, of the wave reaches your location, high tide occurs. Low tide corresponds with the lowest part of the wave, or its trough. Most locations typically experience two high and two low tides each day, roughly 6 hours apart. Although tides are one of the Earth’s most regular phenomena, their impact varies dramatically according to the shape of the shoreline, water depth, distance from the nearest continental shelf, and wind and weather factors. Strong offshore winds can move water away from the coast, exaggerating low tides and reducing high tides, while onshore winds can have the opposite effect— piling water onto the shore and dramatically increasing the height of low and high tides. High-pressure systems can also depress sea levels, bringing clear sunny days with exceptionally low tides, while low-pressure systems associated with cloudy, rainy conditions often bring tides that are higher than predicted.

KEEPING TRACK OF THE TIDES The biggest tide in Australia—and one of the biggest in the world—occurs at King Sound in northern Western Australia, where the tidal range can reach 12m. In contrast, tides on the east coast of Australia typically have a range of only 1.5–2m. The tide usually travels much faster on the mid-tide, which for many people just manifests as a realisation of new rock pools and other features appearing. However, for recreational fishers and others enjoying time near the ocean, the pace of the tide may come as a complete surprise. Anyone on low rocks next to the sea can end up in a dangerous situation as they are potentially cut off from the shore and exposed to breaking or surging waves. Situations like this illustrate the importance for everyone to understand the power of the tide. It always pays to check not only the weather forecast but the tides and local sea conditions before you pick your fishing spot.

FIND OUT MORE More information about tide safety can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website. This information is also translated into traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian. Go to: marine/about/tidesafety-rock-fishers.shtml

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education & Training


From the Editor A lifejacket is such a simple thing to look after and easy to throw over your head, yet we continue to notice rock fishers and boaties failing to wear one. Just as a lifeguard does all they can to prevent incidents from happening, boaties and rock fishers should always take precautions to minimise the chance of any trouble. If you own a lifejacket, get to know it and ensure it’s operational—you don’t want to get into a situation and pull out a jacket that is damaged, or find it won’t inflate. The last two drowning deaths in my area were off rock platforms at unpatrolled beaches. James Turnham, Guest Editor




ifejackets have had a recent style revolution. Gone are the days of bulky, heavy pieces of equipment. Lifejackets now come in a range of colours, sizes and shapes that can be used for a range of activities and even appeal to the fashion conscious.

YOUR INFLATABLE LIFEJACKET CARE AND SERVICE CHECKLIST Inflatable lifejackets require extra care and servicing to ensure they will work as intended when needed. The law in NSW requires that you service your inflatable lifejacket once a year or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. You can do this yourself (if permitted by the manufacturer) or you can get it professionally done, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The following is usually performed during a service: ●● ●● ●●




checking the use-by date on the auto cartridge (if fitted) checking the service date inspecting the CO2 cylinder for corrosion or damage, and the bladder for signs of abrasion and wear inflating the bladder using the oral tube, until firm and leave overnight. Inspect for any air loss or damage removing the auto-inflation cartridge prior to rinsing if the lifejacket is set for auto-inflation washing the jacket in warm soapy water and air dry thoroughly.

If your lifejacket shows signs of corrosion, wear, damage or leaks, don’t try to repair it yourself—take it to a professional service agent or dispose of it appropriately. It’s not worth the risk.

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Do a bit of research to find out what style of lifejacket is best for you and your activity. With so many lifejackets now available you will be able to find the one that is right for you. It’s important to choose the most appropriate lifejacket for your height, weight, ability and water activity. There are two common styles of lifejackets—foam and inflatable. Foam lifejackets are relatively easy to care for, and require no mandatory servicing. Inflatable lifejackets can be quite small and allow greater ease of movement, but require extra care, and must be serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

PRE-WEAR CHECK Always perform a pre-wear check before you head out on the water by: ●●





looking over the entire lifejacket for visible signs of wear and tear ensuring buckles, zips and straps are not broken and are in good condition checking that the CO2 cylinder on inflatable lifejackets is full and screwed firmly in, hand tight confirming the auto cartridge (if it’s an automatic model) is screwed firmly in, hand tight making sure the pull-cord is clear and ready for use if needed.

No matter what kind of lifejacket you have—always thoroughly dry the lifejacket and store it in a dry, well-ventilated place away from direct sunlight. Selecting the right lifejacket and regularly caring and servicing it could save your life. It could save your family or friends’ lives too. Remember, a lifejacket never ruined a day on the water. To find out more:




he safety of both lifesaving service providers and the beach-going public in WA will be enhanced this summer thanks to a partnership between Surf Life Saving Western Australia and BHP Billiton.

Upgrading an analogue network, the partnership has seen the successful installation of digital mobile radio communications equipment at strategic locations throughout the metropolitan, south west and great southern regions of WA. A key outcome of the upgrade is the elimination of black and brown spots—areas with compromised communications— from Esperance to Yanchep, providing an improved operational footprint. The new network will enable them to access emergency and rescue communications that keep pace with how the community uses the coastline. Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) General Manager Chris Peck said the partnership means not only improved communications and area coverage but also increased safety as they respond to emergencies. “This digital technology gives lifeguards and surf lifesavers reliable operational communications coverage; in some locations the coverage is better than mobile reception, but also enables continuous communications with SLSWA’s hub SurfCom,” he said.

Edgar Basto, BHP Billiton and Chris Peck, SLSWA, with support operations crew members and surf lifesavers

With a rapidly growing coastal population, this new network will also mean that SLSWA can expand their emergency response network along the coast as the need for services increases.

“This upgrade will have a significant impact in areas such as the notorious Salmon Holes in our great southern region. For example, once a RWC team has been dispatched to respond to a rock fishing emergency, they will be able to maintain lines of communication and are trackable by SurfCom”, said Mr Peck.

The project also means improved interoperability with other rescue organisations such as the WA Water Police, as well as placing lifeguards and surf lifesavers in a position to capitalise on technology improvements as they evolve, such as enabling the use of smart phones while communicating with a digital radio handset. Both of these outcomes are a significant boost to the safety of any individual using the coastline.

“This is a state-of-the-art resource and one we could only have dreamed about had BHP not stepped forward with their partnership.”

“Thanks to this partnership, we are better able to protect our emergency response personnel as they put their lives on the line to serve the community”, said Mr Peck.

“Thanks to this partnership, we are better able to protect our emergency response personnel as they put their lives on the line to serve the community.”



Surveillance drones will take to the skies in WA this summer as part of a 3-month trial

urf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) has received $88,000 in funding to conduct a 3-month trial of drone surveillance, as part of the State Government’s investment in the Western Australian Shark Hazard Mitigation Strategy.


definition camera will stream live pictures back to SLSWA operators, which will allow operators to make real-time decisions based on the footage.

The one-off funding will enable drone surveillance from November 2016 to January 2017 and will allow SLSWA to conduct surveillance along metropolitan beaches and some south-west locations, with a focus on patrolled swimming areas and open water community events such as SLSWA’s surf sports events.

SLSWA Lifesaving Services Contract Manager Peter Scott said, “Drone technology has the potential to become an integral and critical piece of lifesaving equipment for surf lifesaving operations, the same way our lifeguards and surf lifesavers rely on RWCs, inflatable rescue boats, all-terrain vehicles and defibrillators”.

During the trial, a small, less-than-2kg drone equipped with a high

Each drone patrol will require two surf lifesavers to operate the service; one will be trained as a drone operator, while the other will act as an observer with a visual display.

“The trial will allow us to determine if drone surveillance can be successfully implemented into our operations in an effective, sustainable and cost-efficient manner.” Mr Scott said that approximately 10 volunteer surf lifesavers will be selected to undertake extensive training before taking on the role of drone operator during the trial. “If the trial is successful, we hope that a future drone program could encourage the public who are interested in drones to make a contribution to coastal safety by becoming a drone operator”, he said.

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n April 2016, the Federal Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, launched the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016–20 at Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club.

The strategy continues the AWSC’s goal of reducing drowning deaths by 50% by the year 2020. It outlines priority areas in which Australian peak water safety bodies Royal Life Saving, Surf Life Saving and AUSTSWIM, AWSC members and federal, state/territory and local governments must work together to prevent drowning.

The strategy was developed in conjunction with the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC) and replaces the earlier strategy, which covered 2012–15. Australia is one of only a handful of countries with a water safety strategy. The WHO Global Report on Drowning identified the previous Australian strategy as an example of good practice.

“This is a sensible, serious strategy that I believe will deliver results”, Ms Ley said. Drowning data in the report shows that 3,116 lives were lost to drowning in the 11 years from 2004–05 to 2014–15, or an average of 283 deaths per year. Drowning impact is greatest in: ●● ●●


Reduce Drowning Deaths in Children Aged 0–14. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Young People Aged 15–24. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Males Aged 25–64. Reduce Drowning Deaths in People Aged 65+. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Inland Waterways. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Coastal Waters. Reduce Drowning Deaths by Strengthening the Aquatic Industry. 8 Reduce Alcohol- and Drug-Related Drowning Deaths. 9 Reduce Boating, Watercraft and Recreational Activity Related Drowning Deaths. 10 Reduce Drowning Deaths in High-risk Populations. 11 Reduce the Impact of Disaster and Extreme Weather on Drowning Deaths.


children under five coastal and inland waterways people from cultural and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Alcohol and/or drugs are known to be factors in 34% of drowning deaths. Males are four times more likely to drown than females.

STRATEGY PRIORITIES The strategy identifies 11 goals across three priority areas where action is required in order to achieve a 50% reduction in drowning by the year 2020. They are: ●● ●● ●●

taking a life stages approach targeting high-risk locations focusing on key drowning strategies.

“These are key areas that Surf Life Saving Australia is committed to reducing in collaboration with our partners on the Australian Water Safety Council”, SLSA President Graham Ford said.

From the Editor In Port Macquarie, we are seeing a positive effect on our primary-school-aged children due to the Surf Education Program we have been running for a number of years. The program is offered to every primary school in our region with the option for lifeguards to visit their school, or have their school groups visit the beach. Each year when I return to speak, I am astounded by the increased surf safety knowledge they have gained from previous talks. Education seems to be working, and hopefully targeting people from a young age will help reduce these drowning statistics in the future. James Turnham, Guest Editor

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TARGETTING HIGH-RISK BLACKSPOTS New equipment and services on trial in Queensland


urf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) will trial new equipment and services this summer after its 2016 Coast Safe Report highlighted 11 drowning deaths on Queensland beaches last season. While there were no drowning deaths between SLSQ’s red and yellow flags, 55% of incidents occurred within 1km of a patrol service. Males accounted for 90% of drowning deaths, with the average age of victims increasing from 41 years in 2014–15 to 44.5 years in 2015–16. The report also identified six coastal blackspots in Queensland, including two on the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise and Marina Mirage to Southport Spit), two on the Sunshine Coast (Noosa River to Rainbow Beach and Discovery Beach to Point Arkwright), Green Island and Fraser Island (ocean side). Moving forward, SLSQ has outlined its strategies to boost public safety at these locations. The agenda includes trials of a night vision technology at Surfers Paradise, allowing lifeguards and surf

lifesavers to monitor the tourist hub around the clock. In addition, SLSQ will continue with its dusk patrol service over the Christmas school holidays at the popular blackspot. SLSQ will also boost its RWC patrols at selected locations, increase aerial patrols and further engage with international tourists about surf safety. Meanwhile, lifeguards at Green Island will continue to trial new equipment for use in patrol, search and rescue scenarios. Chief Lifeguard Greg Cahill said the state’s professional lifeguard arm would continue to work closely with volunteer surf lifesavers to help eliminate drowning deaths across Queensland. “Through a concerted effort, we’re hoping to see a significant reduction in drowning deaths at these locations over next 12 months and beyond”, he said.

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ON SET WITH AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR Tasmanian lifeguards and surf lifesavers share their skills in Samoa


recent Skills for Life training program in Samoa led to an approach from the Australian Survivor production team to assist with risk management and water safety on the series.

Four Surf Life Saving Tasmania (SLST) volunteers worked directly with Survivor in various roles from preproduction to completion. The first of the team assisted in the weeks prior to filming undertaking initial risk assessments and upskilling the local Samoan lifeguards. However, once filming began it was time for the second group to take over duties. The team assisted with water and safety assessment of challenges and construction, in and around water, as well as forecasting risk and safety of the tribal camps. Initially, the plan was to involve the surf lifesaving team only for the first few weeks of filming but as their role developed they 20 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

Nick Wood with local Samoan lifeguards

were asked to stay on. It was at this point that SLST advertised for expressions of interest for help with a ‘Water Safety Program’ in Samoa. Lifeguard Jack Wood (from Ulverstone SLSC) was on a break from work so when he received the call to head over to join the team in Samoa things moved very quickly.


Jack’s twin brother, Nick (also a lifeguard), also put in an expression of interest but as he was studying for exams in his first semester at university he had to wait a couple of weeks before he got the call to take Jack’s place. “Once I finished my exams in Melbourne, I flew home to Tasmania for only a few days before I took off to Samoa for 3½ weeks. I was the last volunteer to go over, and I was there for the final weeks of filming. Initially, we were keeping it relatively quiet, and that we were going to Samoa for a ‘Water Safety Program’. A couple of days before the show premiered, SLST published that we had been working on Australian Survivor”, Nick said. The twins embraced the opportunity to volunteer on the filming of Australian Survivor, giving them the experience of a lifetime.

From the Editor Lifeguarding and surf lifesaving can open doors to so many opportunities. While most of them will be fun, enjoyable and quite possibly an experience of a lifetime, they can also be very rewarding. Whether it’s a trip like this one, or a program with a local community group, when opportunities (voluntary or paid) are thrown your way, put your hand up! You will gain new skills, meet and engage with new people, help communities and potentially directly or indirectly save lives. There’s no better feeling then that. James Turnham, Guest Editor

“The people we got to work with on the show were great, and they definitely added to the great experience we—the four of us from Tasmania that worked on the show—all had”, Nick explained The Wood twins have been involved in surf lifesaving since they began swimming lessons at Ulverstone SLSC when they were just 3 years old. From there it was Nippers, and the rest is history as they have both been involved as volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards since they were old enough. A local team of Samoan lifeguards were also involved in the series giving them a invaluable lifesaving experience and the opportunity to apply the skills they had developed during their training in the SLST program. A number of the local lifeguards involved were trained in the initial program back in 2010 and a few had even been employed for the US season of Survivor.

SKILLS FOR LIFE: SAMOA Since 2009, SLST has been working with the Government of Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority to implement a ‘Skills for Life Program’ for people of Samoa to provide water safety and rescue skills to reduce lives lost in the water. In September 2009, when the tsunami hit Samoa, SLST worked to establish a 3-year program to introduce vital water safety skills to the people of Samoa and reduce the number of tragic drownings. The tsunami highlighted a number of issues including people's inability to survive in the aquatic environment, lack of water safety culture and the provision of first response to minimise lives lost. Over the years, the partnership has developed, and past participants revisit Samoa to further develop a community resilience program that will build capacity and awareness in the water for those who live in and visit Samoa. SLST’s volunteers work with the local groups to identify opportunities for development of a surf lifesaving movement and the establishment of Surf Life Saving Samoa.

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 21



Taking communication to identified drowning blackspots


n 2015–16, 37% of Australian coastal drowning deaths occurred more than 5km from a lifesaving service. Many drowning deaths, particularly rock-fishing-related incidents, occur in isolated locations where mobile reception is poor and areas can be difficult to access. The lack of communication means that time critical emergency response to incidents can be delayed.

Funded through the Australian Government’s Beach Drowning Blackspot Reduction Program, Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) has a developed a portable and compact emergency response beacon (ERB) that can be deployed in known high-risk locations. The ERB is monitored and managed via an online application from the SLSNSW State Operations Centre. When the emergency button is activated, the Bosch surveillance camera is turned on and SMS notifications are also sent to a selected list of recipients.

22 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

When members of the public activate the beacon they can talk directly to an operator at the SLSNSW State Operations Centre. Staff at the centre can use the ERB’s camera to help communicate with the member of the public, observe the site and the incident and then quickly deploy an appropriate rescue asset in response. Currently undergoing testing in collaboration with Wollongong City Council, the portable beacon is lightweight and easy to transport. The unit can be removed overnight for charging and to reduce previous issues of vandalism. The council lifeguards deploy the ERB on a daily basis, and report to SLSNSW. The development of this beacon identifies SLSNSW as a leader in research and deployment of these advanced technology systems.


STREAMING FROM THE SKIES Westpac Lifesaver Rescue helicopters assist with real-time remote data


ive streaming from some of Victoria’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service is providing real-time information to assist Life Saving Victoria (LSV) and other emergency service organisations access unpatrolled and isolated areas.

Introduced in December 2014, the live-streaming footage allows viewers to identify beach visitation numbers, ocean conditions and the spread of beachgoers at unpatrolled or remote locations. It also gives real-time data on the location of rock fishers in out-of-theway areas. The camera feed is recorded so it can be reviewed and analysed, and the trends can be identified at a later date. The information assists LSV with resourcing and helps them to understand conditions in various at-risk locations. Manager Lifesaving Operations, Greg Scott, noted some the benefits of the service saying, “It offers real-time situational awareness without us actually being there, and also helps us to make informed decisions about managing resources. The iOS and Android apps support in-field use by authorised personnel, and the 4G networks mean that we can stream from nearly anywhere in the state”. It also provides better situational awareness for incident management and response, and it can be accessed by the Rescue Coordination Centre, Police and other emergency services when required. “Victoria Police have access to the streams at all times and can use it to support informed decision making”, Scott added. The live-streaming cameras can also capture training sequences and incident response, which can be used for training and review.

“The live-streaming footage allows viewers to identify beach visitation numbers, ocean conditions and the spread of beachgoers at unpatrolled or remote locations. It also gives real-time data on the location of rock fishers in out-of-the-way areas.”




he NSW Government’s $16 million Shark Management Strategy is trialling new and emerging technologies to improve shark surveillance, detection and deterrents—as well as funding science, research, education and community awareness. All of these trials are currently underway.

DRONE TRIALS Using local operators, drones with mounted cameras are being trialled for shark surveillance in Evans Head, Lennox Head, Lighthouse Beach (Ballina), Redhead and Kiama. Results so far have been promising and have led to the evacuation of some beaches following the identification of dangerous sharks close to swimmers and surfers.

AERIAL SURVEILLANCE Ongoing helicopter surveillance is providing more patrols along the NSW coastline. This ‘eye in the sky’ is able to detect sharks in the water and alert surfers and swimmers. The frequency of patrols varies on different parts of the coast with the focus on school holidays and weekends.

SMART DRUMLINES SMART drumlines differ from traditional drumlines as they are linked to a satellite and use a special trigger mechanism to alert DPI


scientists via phone and email when an animal is hooked. The scientists then respond to tag and release the shark. The number of SMART drumlines available in NSW has recently increased from 15 to 100.

TAGGING PROGRAM The NSW DPI has tagged more than 60 white sharks and 80 bull sharks. The tags transmit valuable positional information to satellites and recently installed VR4G listening stations when the tagged shark is nearby. Many of these tagged white sharks have made their way south, some as far as Flinders Island in South Australia. One even made its way to New Zealand!

LISTENING STATIONS VR4G listening stations have been set about 300m offshore along the NSW coast. These listening stations detect nearby sharks fitted with acoustic tags and transmit the information in near real-time to be broadcast automatically via the DPI Twitter account @NSWSharkSmart and also on the SharkSmart app.

SHARK MESH NETS Following three shark attacks in 2 weeks on the north coast of NSW, the NSW Government agreed to trial shark nets in the Ballina area. The nets will be set generally in line with how they are used in the existing Newcastle to Wollongong shark meshing area, where only one fatality has occurred at a netted beach in the last 70 years.


Listening station

Shark tagging

The nets are 150m long, 6m deep and usually set in water 10-12m deep. The nets are passive fishing nets designed to catch large sharks and to reduce the number of sharks aggregating on popular beaches. They do NOT create an enclosed area, nor do they provide a permanent barrier between beachgoers and sharks. Nets will be fitted with the most sophisticated dolphin pingers and whale alarms available to deter the marine mammals away from the nets. A gear technologist will also investigate the feasibility of using SMART automatic alert devices on the nets so that a meshing contractor can be notified and respond quickly to release any trapped marine life.

CLEVER BUOY Clever Buoy, developed by Australian company Shark Mitigation Systems, uses sonar and sophisticated software to detect the

distinctive movement patterns made by sharks and transmit information to local beach authorities. The government is partnering with the University of Technology Sydney and Shark Mitigation Systems to conduct a collaborative research project to improve the system’s capability to discriminate between different species of sharks. This will include both field and aquarium-based trials.

NEW TECHNOLOGY GRANTS The NSW Government is funding a number of grant applications and PhD scholarships. The new and innovative projects focus heavily on personal shark deterrent devices.

OBSERVATION TOWERS FOR SHARK SPOTTING The NSW Government is funding observation towers on beaches and beach headlands for shark spotting. Observation towers are useful not only for spotting sharks but for spotting people in distress. For more information go to:

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 25




ary McCoy and I developed the Surf Hazard Rating (SHR) in 2012 after the third death in large seas at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. The primary purpose was to provide a simple quantitative measure that would help carnival referees decide whether to postpone or move a surf carnival when the surf was too dangerous for competition.

26 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

The SHR can be measured at any part of any beach at any daylight time using a watch and visual cues. A workshop has recently been conducted in Sydney under the auspices of Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) in which a number of officials from five mainland states were trained in how to facilitate the delivery of the SHR. They will then train members from their own states so that the method becomes uniform throughout Australia and relevant data can be collected and stored for various purposes as well as the


main one—surf carnival competitions for all ages. Potential extra spin-offs include using the SHR as part of risk management for club Nipper competitions and using it as an extra guide for setting up suitable patrol areas or making decisions to close the beach for public surf bathing. The SHR is based on the properties of the breaking waves and the movement of water within the surf zone. Gary and I identified seven main factors and assigned various ratings to them. They are wave height, wave type, wave period, surf zone width, surface turbulence, sideways drag and outflowing rip currents. There is also an ‘other’ hazards category when it is necessary to account for cold water, sun glare, rocks, jetties, lost craft, floating logs, bluebottles, sharks or crocodiles. The two main contributions to the SHR are wave height and surf zone width. For every 20m of travel of broken surf the rating is increased by 1, so that an 80m-surf break has a rating of 4. Both the shore break and outer break are calculated for beaches with an inner channel. The wave height rating increases by 1 for every 0.5m up to 3.0m waves and then increases by 2 beyond 3.0m. Thus a 2.2m wave has a rating of 5, a 2.8m wave has a rating of 6, but a 3.2m wave has a rating of 8. Wave type (surging, spilling, plunging or plunging with backblasting) ratings go from 1 to 4, wave periods also from 1 to 4 with the usual 10-second period at breaking being a 1 rating. Shorter periods are given higher hazard ratings. Surface turbulence ranges from 0 to 4 with the starting of ‘white caps’ being given a rating of 2. For cross waves in the surf zone we add an extra 1. Sideways drags also range from 0 to 4, and likewise with rips. The SHR is the sum of the individual ratings determined by an observer who must be down at the water’s edge. There is no upper limit to the SHR. For example, the SHR on a Sydney northern beach when the entrance to Sydney Heads was closed to cruise ships was estimated to be 64. A value above 20 is a ‘normal’ big sea. Clearly the seven factors, and consequently the SHR, will vary over time because of tide changes, wind speed increases, swell variations, travelling rips etc. So far, the SHR and incident data has been collected at more than 2,000 surf boat events to determine that crews should wear helmets when the SHR is equal to or greater than 13. During the 2016–17 season, data collection is being continued at board and ski events. The usefulness of the SHR for its primary purpose has already been practically demonstrated. At the Australian Surf Boat Rowers Championships in 2015 the first event was held at a venue with SHR equal to 19. Three boats overturned. The carnival referee immediately moved the carnival to a neighbouring and more sheltered beach where the SHR was 15. The competition was still fierce and enjoyable, but with no major injuries.

Future research goals include investigating the possibility of developing a Surf Safety Index (SSI). Development of a Competitors’ Surf Competence Rating (CSCR) would be necessary, which can be compared against the SHR, to produce a Surf Safety Index. Risk mitigation may vary based on an individual’s SSI rating. Very little research has been completed in this area to date. Australian Lifeguard Magazine 27



Randwick City Council Lifeguard Service


ith ten beaches and eight ocean pools, Randwick City is home to some of Australia’s most loved beaches and ocean hotspots along its stunning coastline, attracting more than 9.32 million people to the beaches in 2015–16 alone. Peppered with favourite local haunts, bars and restaurants, residents and visitors alike take time to cool off in the summer months at Randwick City’s most popular beaches, Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly. Maroubra and Coogee are patrolled 365 days a year and Clovelly is patrolled during daylight-saving months. In summer, lifeguard numbers increase to 36 full-time, seasonal and casual lifeguards who stand guard ready to rescue troubled swimmers. Randwick City Council lifeguards work in partnership with the dedicated volunteer surf lifesavers. On weekends and summer school holidays the combined watchful eyes of the lifeguards and


Clovelly Beach






Total visitation to Randwick City beaches was 9.32 million people—up 7% on 2014–15. December, January and February were the busiest months— accounting for 43% of all visitations. Lifeguards performed 567 surf rescues throughout the year—up 21% from the previous year. 324 of surf rescues occurred during January and February accounting for 57% of all rescues. Number of surf rescues: Clovelly (65), Coogee (58) and Maroubra (444) There were 11,000 first aid treatments and more than 28,000 preventative actions.

Note: These statistics were for the season July 2015– June 2016.

28 Australian Lifeguard Magazine


Coogee Beach

in visitation is matched, unfortunately, by a significant increase in surf rescues and preventative action taken by our lifeguards.” Randwick City Council Lifeguard, Paul Moffatt, says they are constantly reminding people how important it is to always follow instructions from lifeguards. “Their safety is our number one priority, but we need people to follow the rules and make sure they take the necessary precautions when they hit the beach, particularly with the increase in visitors each year.”

surf lifesavers help look after the beaches where swimmer numbers can swell to tens of thousands on a hot summer day. Lifeguards are kept busy attending to thousands of first aid treatments ranging from minor scratches to bluebottle stings and resuscitations, let alone the hundreds of surf rescues throughout the year. But, with a 7% increase in visitation to the beaches on the previous year, lifeguards saw a huge jump in the number of surf rescues, up 21% on 2014–15. Maroubra Beach was the most dangerous beach, with 444 rescues performed compared to 65 at Clovelly and 58 at Coogee. Mayor of Randwick, Noel D’Souza, said that the significant increase in visitors to Randwick City’s beaches was terrific for the local economy, but it also raised the importance of water safety. “The major increase in visitation to our beautiful beaches is wonderful and goes to show that we have one of the most stunning coastlines in Australia. However, the increase

Maroubra Beach

Randwick City is also home to some of the country’s cleanest beaches with Clovelly and Maroubra Beaches graded ‘very good’ in the recent State of the Beaches report. So, when you’re next in Randwick City, take a dip and enjoy some of Australia’s most stunning beaches. To find out more about the beaches and ocean pools you can explore in Randwick City, please visit




reparing for the Rio Olympic Games was very different to my training for the London and Beijing Olympic Games. This time, I faced a whole range of new challenges—I had to juggle family life, training and working as a Gold Coast City Council Lifeguard.

With only so many hours in a day, I needed to make sure that the time I spent training was focused on quality and not quantity. Depending on my training phase, I would train for longer distances, up to 180km+ a week, or as little as 50km in a taper. So, having a training plan with awareness of the competition calendar was crucial. Time management and identifying priorities was the key. A normal week in the lead-up to the Olympics included 10 paddling sessions (a range of sessions to complement the race distance), three gym sessions (maintenance of maximum strength and power) and two recovery pool sessions (stretching and mobility). My ‘go-to’ session was 10 x 1,000m on a 7-minute base, holding under 4-minute pace for all of them—two of those efforts needed to be ‘flat out’. To be able to compete in multiple 1,000m races at the Olympic Games and World Championship events, it’s essential to build a solid base for your body as well as developing interpersonal skills to motivate and manage yourself in a team environment. My surf lifesaving background kept me grounded, and taught me not to get too ahead of myself. I’ve been lucky enough to win some of the biggest races of my life with mates from my surf club. 30 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

Surf lifesaving and kayaking go hand in hand, which was evident at the Rio Olympics as everyone I raced with was a surf lifesaver and all of them have found success in both sports. Both ski paddling and kayaking require similar movements but the craft is built for completely different conditions. I compare them as you would to riding a BMX bike to a road bike, so being aware of your conditions and knowing how to work your craft is important. Now that training for the Olympics is over I’m back on the beach lifeguarding in one of the best offices in the world. How many unhappy people do you see down the beach? None! Everyone has a smile on their faces. You can’t get any better than that.

National Coa s tal Safe t y Re port 2016 S u r f L i fe S av i n g Au s t r a l i a

National Overview The following report is a national summary of coastal drowning deaths in Australia from the National Coastal Safety Report 2016. To download the full report, including state breakdowns, visit



No COD Listed


COD Listed

120 Number (n)

113 90




118 105

102 89











Rate (per 100,000 pop.)
















Figure 45

2004–16: 12-YEAR TREND OF NATIONAL COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS National coastal drowning death numbers and crude drowning rates 2004–16 are illustrated above. The 12-year average rate per 100,000 population is 0.44 and number is 97, the rate for 2015–16 is 0.54 and number is 130.


Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.18 0.16 0.14 0.12

Swimming/Wading Boating Rock Fishing Watercraft Attempting a Rescue Diving Snorkelling Rock/Cliff Related Other Unknown

0.10 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0.00 2004–05











Figure 46

2004–16: 12-YEAR COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS BY ACTIVITY The national rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time. The 2015–16 rate for rock fishing is the only activity below the 12-year average (0.05 vs. 0.06 average rate per 100,000 pop.). All other activity rates are above the 12-year average rate. ‘Other’ activities include hang-gliding, jumping into water and unintentional falls.





Number (n)


Crude Drowning Rate per 100,000


Crude Drowning Deaths (n)



0.8 30 0.6 20



Rate (per 100,000 pop.)












Figure 47

2015–16: COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS BY STATE (n=130) Of the 130 coastal drowning deaths, 53 (41%) occurred in NSW, 22 (17%) in Vic, 20 (15%) in both Qld and WA, eight (6%) in SA, four (3%) in Tas and three (2%) in NT.






Number (n)





8 0.03 6 0.02



2 0



10–14 15–19 20–24 25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64 65–69 70–74 75–79 80–84

Figure 48

2015–16: COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS BY AGE GROUP AND SEX (n=130) The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 25–29 years (n=15, 0.06 rate per 100,000 pop.). One hundred and sixteen fatalities (89%) were male.



85+ unknown


Rate (per 100,000 pop.)





4% 2% 1%








Swimming/ Wading




Swimming/Wading Boating Rock Fishing Watercraft Snorkelling Rock/Cliff Related Attempting a Rescue Diving Other Unknown




Beach Offshore Rock/Cliff Bay Jetty Marina


Figure 49

Figure 50



The majority of coastal drowning deaths occurred when an individual was participating in swimming or wading (n=39), boating (n=30), rock fishing (n=12), using non-powered watercraft (n=11) or snorkelling (n=10).

The majority of coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach (n=63), offshore (n=34) or at a rock/cliff locations (n=25). The percentages illustrate a decrease in beach (48% from 56%) and rock/cliff locations (19% from 22%) and an increase in offshore locations (26% from 16%) when compared to last year 2014–15. 5% 10%



4 42%


Less than 1km 37%



10km to 50km

Less than 1km Greater than 5km 1km to 5km


10km to 50km Greater than 50km Less than 10km International Unknown

Figure 53

Figure 54



Fifty-four individuals drowned within 1km of the nearest Surf Life Saving club. Of these, only 33% occurred during patrolled seasons and/or times.

Forty-three individuals lived between 10km and 50km from the drowning location, and 13 coastal drowning deaths involved international tourists.





ith so many people now taking to paddling sports such as canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, it’s even more critical to follow the rules and safety advice so every day you paddle, you have an awesome time.

IF YOU’RE OUT ON YOUR CANOE, KAYAK OR STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD… As a paddler, you have to share the waterways with much bigger craft. Try to be as visible as possible and avoid areas that tend to have commercial craft such as ferries and large ships, as they may not be able to see you and you might have trouble getting out of their way! Remember, large commercial vessels such as ships and ferries often travel at deceptive speed and cannot stop or turn easily. They also have a restricted view from the bridge—and if you get too close under their bow, you’ll be invisible to their crew. Paddling in less busy areas is much more pleasant anyway; you spend less time dodging traffic and more time enjoying yourself! Part of the attraction of stand-up paddling, canoeing or kayaking is how low maintenance it is in terms of the amount of equipment you need or how much you need to spend, especially compared to what you need if you are on a boat. So, with your spare cash, invest in a lifejacket! Lifejackets must be worn when paddling a canoe or kayak at all times on all waters. They are also a great idea when paddleboarding. These days there are discreet lifejackets that are specifically designed for all shapes, sizes and paddling sports, so they don’t interfere with your activity. This summer, so many people will be using the waterways for so many different purposes.

Understanding and following the rules and safety advice are imperative for everybody to have an enjoyable yet safe time out on the water. For more information:

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 35




ip currents are the number one hazard on Australia’s coastline. They account for more deaths per year than sharks, floods and cyclones combined.1

Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Coastal Safety Surveys2 revealed that most Australians view rip currents as dangerous. However, participating in swimming and wading (where rip currents may be present) is not seen to be hazardous. Two-thirds of beachgoers are not able to identify a rip, and two out of three people who think they can identify a rip, cannot do so correctly. The surveys revealed that: ●●


●● ●●

72% of people believe that rip currents are very or extremely hazardous 44% of occasional swimmers do not believe swimming at the coast is hazardous only 31% of people could accurately identify a rip current only 12% of people are very confident about their ability to escape a rip without assistance.

HOW TO SURVIVE A RIP CURRENT Rips are complex and can quickly change shape and location. The best way to survive a rip current is to swim at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags. Through research undertaken by SLSA and the University of New South Wales principles for surviving rip currents were established.1 If you find yourself caught in a rip current stay calm, conserve your energy and consider these options: seek help. Raise your arm and call out. You may be rescued float with the current. It may return you to a shallow sandbank ●● swim parallel to the beach or towards the breaking waves. You may escape the rip currents. Reassess the situation. If what you are doing is not working, try one of the other options (above) until you are rescued or you return to shore. ●● ●●

Young males (15–39 years) are highly represented in the drowning statistics and are a key target group for rip-current-related interventions. Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) undertook behavioural insights research into this high-risk group to better understand their perception of hazards and what motivates them to follow water safety procedures. The findings suggested young men believe they know enough about coastal safety and they are doing enough to remain safe.3 However, it is not necessarily the case. The intelligence from the research has been used to inform a long-term public safety campaign to raise awareness about rips and to influence people’s behaviour about rips. The campaign is designed to disrupt people’s thinking about rips. It busts common myths associated with beach safety and highlights that young males (15–39 years) are most likely to drown in a rip. Videos showing how to identify rips and how to escape from them provide necessary educational material to improve people’s resilience to the rip current hazard.

References 1. Brander, R, D, Dominey-Howes, C, Champion, O, Del Vecchio, and B, Brighton (2013): “Brief Communication: A new perspective on the Australian rip current hazard” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 13, 1687–1690, 2013. 2. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey 2014–16. Newspoll/ Omnipoll Online Omnibus April 2014, 2015, 2016. 3. Ipsos Social Research Institute Swimming and Wading Report 2016.

For more information go to 4% 12%




7% 2%


12% Very Confident




Not at All Confident Not Very Confident Somewhat Confident Very Confident Don't Know


Fairly Good (or higher) 27%


No Chance, Almost No Chance (1 in 100) Very Slight Possibility (1 in 10) Some Possibility (3 in 10) Fairly Good Possibility (5 in 10) Probable (7 in 10) Almost Sure (9 in 10) Certain, Practically Certain (99 in 100) Don't know

2016: Confidence of swimmers to escape a rip current

2016: Perceived likelihood of being caught in a rip current outside the flags

Question: How confident are you that you could get out of a rip current without assistance? Only 12% of coastal swimmers are very confident that they could escape from a rip current without assistance.

Question: How likely do you think it is you will get caught in a rip if you swim outside the flags? Almost two-thirds (62%) of swimmers think there is a fairly good or higher chance of being caught in a rip current when swimming outside of the red and yellow flags.

36 Australian Lifeguard Magazine




Total Male Female

42% 38%

37% 32%




25% 20% 16%




15% 11%


3% 3% 3% Not at All Confident

Not Very Confident

Somewhat Confident

Very Confident

Don't Know


Highly Competent Competent Swimmer Swimmer

Average Swimmer

Weak Swimmer

Unable to Swim

2016: Confidence of swimmers to identify rip currents

2015–16: Ability of swimmers to identify rip currents

Question: How confident are you that you could identify a rip current? Four out of ten coastal swimmers (41%) are not very or not at all confident they can identify a rip current. Men are more confident in their ability to identify rip currents (68% somewhat or very confident) than women (49% somewhat or very confident).

Question: Please look at the picture below (in the survey) and identify the location of any rip currents. Only 31% of respondents were able to accurately identify rip currents when shown two images containing rip currents. While 46% of people who reported themselves as highly competent ocean swimmers correctly identified the rip currents, only 20% of people who reported they are unable to swim were able to identify the rip currents.

From the Editor When patrolling a beach, we always seem to get people who wander down onto the beach and swim where it suits them—even though the red and yellow flags may be just 50m away. What they fail to realise is that by swimming in their own area, they create an additional area for lifeguards or surf lifesavers to monitor. This action creates an unfair situation for those doing the right thing, as we have to take our eyes away from the flags to watch them or undertake a preventative action by going to talk to them. We put flags and beach signage up for a reason, if only they were always followed. James Turnham, Guest Editor


5 minutes with … JACK AND NICK WOOD

Jack and Nick Wood


aunceston-born, Ulverstone-raised, lifeguarding twins Jack and Nick Wood recently had the unexpected experience of a lifetime on a callout to take their lifeguarding skills to Samoa. Sworn to secrecy, Jack was the first on board, assisting the Survivor Australia production team with risk assessments and water safety advice, to ensure the contestants were able to "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast"!

How many years have you been involved in surf lifesaving? Jack: I have been involved since I was 3 years old. I got my SRC when I was 13, Bronze at 15 and have been patrolling ever since. Nick: I am heading into my 16th season of involvement in Surf Life Saving, starting as a Nipper and moving up through the ranks. This season will be my 7th season as a volunteer patrolling surf lifesaver. Where do you currently lifeguard? Jack: I’m a volunteer surf lifesaver for the Ulverstone SLSC on Buttons Beach and I also lifeguard through Surf Lifesaving Tasmania, which takes me all over the North West Coast of Tassie. I teach younger surf lifesavers through the SLST Development camp program. I also lifeguard at the Ulverstone Waterslide during summer. Nick: I patrol December to March at Buttons Beach Ulverstone as a volunteer surf lifesaver. As a lifeguard, I work for the Central Coast Council at their local waterslide, in addition to doing casual lifeguarding with Surf Life Saving Tasmania for schools and community groups around the North West Coast of Tasmania. What’s your favourite thing about lifeguarding? Jack: The reason I’ve always patrolled as a volunteer has been the satisfaction of helping people. Nick: Being able to provide a service to others while enjoying what I do. I also value the skills I have as a result of being a lifeguard. What’s been the highlight of your lifeguarding career? Jack: Definitely Samoa, it was easily one of the best things I have ever done, working with the locals as well as a wide range of people from around the world who all came together to work on Survivor. Nick: There are many experiences that I look back on as being highlights, but the opportunity to go to another country, pass on my skills and work on a show like Survivor, was probably one of the most unique and would have to be the biggest highlight for me so far. What’s different about lifeguarding in Tasmania compared to Samoa? Jack: It’s two incredibly different cultures—here in Tassie the water

is a great deal colder and beachgoers generally have a pretty good idea about water safety. That is definitely not the case in Samoa! A lot of them have never been taught about water safety. The beaches we worked at were also quite different to Tassie as they were all protected by reefs so there weren’t really any breaking waves, it was all generally flat water close to shore. Nick: Tasmania is a bit different to your typical lifeguarding scene as it can be quite cold at times. That was definitely a big difference with Samoa often experiencing 30-degree heat. The work we did in Samoa was also localised to the beaches where we were filming the show, in Tasmania it’s a much wider picture, looking at more than just between the flags on the beach. What’s your favourite memory from your Samoan experience? Jack: The whole experience was one of the best of my life just due to the wide variety of people from all over the world that I got to work with in such an amazing location. There was one reward for the contestants that took place at a small waterfall that was pretty cool, but really it was just another cool experience, because all of it was pretty awesome. Nick: While working on and around the set of Survivor, some of the most memorable moments were, as a Survivor fan myself, actually seeing all the challenge sets and the tribal council set, and seeing how they were all made. On the final challenge on the show—out at the Lava fields in Samoa—there was some great scenery as well as some pretty big waves, and despite having to be out there for so long, it was a pretty cool site and all in all one of the most memorable from my time in Samoa. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Jack: I plan to head off to uni next year in Melbourne, so that’s in my immediate future for the next 3 years or so, but after that who knows. I never would’ve guessed I’d have the chance to work on Survivor so really anything can happen and I’ll just take it as it comes. Nick: At the moment, I’m studying at uni, spending half the year in Victoria, meeting new people and having new experiences, so I’m still trying to work out where I see myself going with a career. It’s constantly changing, but I enjoy being involved in surf lifesaving, so one way or another, being a surf lifesaver and a lifeguard will still be a big part of who I am. Australian Lifeguard Magazine 39




recent study revealed that a significant number of people are injured or become ill on the beach each year.


Between 2010–11 and 2014–15, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) lifeguards and surf lifesavers performed 65,798 rescues and treated 274,211 patients with injuries1. Of those rescues and first aid treatments, 25,907 (8% of total incidents) were serious enough to have a detailed SLSA Incident Report completed and data entered onto the SLSA National Incident Report Database (IRD). All incidents entered into the SLSA IRD were analysed through this research. The results show the causes of injuries (for which an SLSA Incident Report was completed) that occurred on Australian beaches over the 5-year period. Cases included people who were rescued, received first aid or were subject to complaints. Of the 25,907 incidents, 86% were first aid incidents, 11% were rescues (which could also have involved a first aid element) and the remaining 3% were complaints or other incident types. Males were involved in 66% of the incidents, and 48% involved persons aged under 18 years.

2% 1%

86% First Aid

First Aid Rescue Complaint Other


2010–15: Injury type (n=24,719) The vast majority of incidents recorded in SurfGuard had an element of first aid. Many rescues involved first aid, hence many ‘first aid’ incidents are the result of a rescue. Rescues, as noted above, did not involve a first aid element. Males are more likely to be involved in all types of incidents.

LOCATION AND TYPES OF INCIDENTS Almost one-third (29%) of the incidents occurred in the flagged area, with a further 39% occurring outside but near the flags. The most common injuries were open wounds (31%), soft tissue injuries (13%), fractures/dislocations (11%) and neurological injuries (9%). The majority of incidents occurred when the patient was swimming or wading (29%) or on surfcraft (8%). Of the incidents recorded, 37% were referred to ambulance transport and 26% were referred to a medical practitioner or hospital by their own transport. The significant number of beach injuries and rescues performed each year by SLSA staff and volunteers highlights the valuable contribution the organisation makes to the Australian community. It also has implications for the organisation’s training, and resourcing requirements. The volume of incidents reflects the importance that the beach plays in many people’s lives in Australia, as well as the sporting and tourism roles it has in the community. 1

Surf Life Saving Australia Annual Reports available from

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1% % 22%

6% 9%




Open Wound 11%


2010–15: Nature of injury (n=16,580) Injuries have been given a hierarchy based on their perceived acuity to determine the most ‘life-threatening’ condition for coding. The majority of injuries and illnesses are not immediately life threatening, however, there is the potential for serious conditions such as respiratory, fratures and neurological.

Open Wound Soft Tissue Injury Fracture / Dislocation Bites & Stings Neurological Respiratory Ear, Nose, Throat Cardiac Environmental Other Search & Rescue Musculoskeletal


100 90

70 60 50 40 30 20




Soft Tissue Injury


Open Wound


Mental Health

Ear, Nose, Throat








Bites & Stings


Allergic Reaction


Abdominal Pain

Percentage (%)


Using Recreational Watercraft Water Safety Walking/Playing Near Water Training Swimming/Wading Suspected Suicide Attempt Surf Boat Crew Scuba/Skin Diving Sailing Rock Walking Rock Fishing Patrolling on Beach Patrolling in Motorised Watercraft Patrolling in 4WD Other Junior Activities Competition IRB Competition Carnival Officiating Attempting a Rescue

2010–15: Activity when injured (n=16,828) Most people were injured when swimming or wading. Using surfcraft, participating in junior activities or training also accounted for a higher proportion of incidents. Body boarding activity is more likely to result in neurological or open wound injuries. The use of IRBs or personal watercraft (PWC) is more likely to result in open wounds or soft tissue injuries.

From the Editor The biggest part of our job as lifeguards and surf lifesavers is performing preventative actions and undertaking first aid treatments. With first aid being such a large part of our role, we must continually brush up on our first aid knowledge—practising skills and group scenarios or training, in addition to just attending first aid refresher courses every 3 years. Some full-time lifeguards can get enough practice on the job, however casual and volunteer lifeguards may not experience regular exposure to a range of cases. Every day on the beach is different, and we need to always be ready for the unexpected. James Turnham, Guest Editor

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t’s no secret that being on the front line of emergency care can be a traumatic experience for lifeguards and surf lifesavers. However, being able to identify signs and symptoms of someone else experiencing mental distress can be vital in administering initial treatment.

In October 2016, a group of lifeguards from Northern NSW participated in a unique workshop designed to give them a better understanding of mental health first aid training. More than 15 lifeguards from the Tweed, Ballina and Byron attended the 2-day course conducted through Northern NSW Health, while others from Clarence and Port Macquarie also expressed an interest in attending. Registered nurse, Steve Carrigg—who has almost three decades of experience working in the mental health sector— led the workshop. The focus of the workshop was not just on the mental health of those they come into contact with in an emergency situation, but also on how to identify signs that a colleague may be struggling. Ballina Shire Lifeguard Supervisor, Ruben Roxburgh who encouraged his teammates to attend the 42 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

course said it was a vital part of improving the skills of well-rounded lifeguard. “I really believe that the importance of mental health is a growing concern for not only lifeguards but also the wider community”, Roxburgh said. “Lifeguards are at the forefront of dealing with people and to have these skills and the ability to recognise these signs, is an important part of creating a stronger lifeguard service. It is crucial that we are able to understand the differences within the community and be adaptable, which is what this course aims to teach us.” When queried about whether this course was something lifeguards would have considered a decade ago, the 18-season-veteran was frank in his response, “I know I’m closer to the end of my beach career than the beginning, and one of the great things in recent seasons is how much support we’ve had in expanding and improving the skills and knowledge of all lifeguards”. “The management right across the ALS has given us incredible support and proved to be original thinkers and provided access to training that has not only improved our skills as lifeguards but as people as well”, said Mr Roxburgh. “I am at the stage where I really want to mentor the next generation and ensure they’re prepared for the challenges that await them. A solid understanding of mental health will play an important part in that.”

"I really believe that the importance of mental health is a growing concern for not only lifeguards but also the wider community."



Changes to procedures for suspected spinal injuries, heart attacks, bleeding and more …


he Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) recently released a suite of new guidelines for the first aid treatment of a range of injuries and illnesses.

Revision of the guidelines was triggered by a wide-reaching review of evidence for existing treatment practices by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). The changes mean an increased focus on effective treatments for victims prior to handover to ambulance or paramedic personnel.

SO WHAT’S NEW? ILCOR found that there was no evidence to suggest that rigid spinal collars have any positive impact on the treatment of victims with suspected spinal injuries. In fact, it was found that the discomfort associated with wearing a spinal collar can result in a negative outcome for victims. In reviewing this evidence, ILCOR have

recommended that rigid spinal collars no longer be used in a first-aid setting and that manual in-line stabilisation is sufficient. The ARC has adopted this position too. In some jurisdictions around Australia, first aid and emergency services are transitioning to soft collars instead and may have different treatment practices on arrival at the scene. ILCOR also found that there was good evidence to suggest that providing a victim suffering from a suspected heart attack a single standard dose of aspirin could aid their treatment. The ARC recommend that where a heart attack is suspected, that an over-the-counter dispersible aspirin be given to the victim. Obviously, before administering any medication, it is important for first-aiders to check whether the victim is allergic or has any other reason for not wanting to take aspirin. Aspirin can be stocked in personal first aid kits as a precautionary measure, however due to WHS legislation and the First Aid Codes of Practice, in most states and territories in Australia, it cannot be stocked in workplace first aid kits. Lifeguards should check local WHS regulations before deciding whether to stock aspirin in first aid kits. Furthermore, ILCOR have determined that there is no benefit in elevating a bleeding limb. They could find no evidence to support this practice, and in the interests of expedient treatment for victims, the ARC suggest that victims can leave their injured limb in a position that is most comfortable for them. Similarly, the benefit of raising a victim’s legs after fainting has been found by ILCOR to have only a transient effect. Given that raising a victim’s legs often requires using an extra resource to either support the victim’s legs directly, or find something on which to keep their legs elevated, the ARC recommends that the victims can simply be made comfortable in a supine position.

NEW TERMINOLOGY We have used the term ‘victim’ rather than patient or casualty here for a reason. The International Life Saving Federation (ILS) decided at the World Drowning Prevention Conference in Penang, Malaysia, 2015, that the term ‘victim’ shall be the agreed international standard for naming a person in need of assistance.

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 43





very year, Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s volunteers man around 80 beaches along the country’s 15,000km of coastline from October through to April. During an average season, more than 1,200 people are rescued from life-threatening situations. Last season, that number was over 1,500. While the volunteer lifeguard service is the backbone and core point of delivery for Surf Life Saving New Zealand, volunteers are unable to provide beach patrols during the working week to meet the increased 7 days per week demand for beach patrols.

“It’s more of a risk versus cost model for the Regional Lifeguard Service whereas it’s more a case of who is available for our volunteer patrols”, he says.

The Regional Lifeguard Service is a partnership delivered by surf lifesaving clubs and territorial local authorities in an attempt to protect the coastal population during the busy summer months and to supplement the volunteer weekend patrols provided by surf lifesaving clubs.

Take the Bay of Plenty coastline, for example, which stretches around 250km along the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The Bay of Plenty is home to some of the country’s most populated beaches including Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Omanu—all busy throughout the summer season. Last season, those three clubs undertook 113 rescues between them.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s national lifesaving manager, Allan Mundy, says there is a variance to how the funding formula is created for each patrol location. The objective is to get the optimum number of lifeguards on the beach to meet the need driven by the user population and level of risk at that particular beach.

Some of the Bay’s busiest beaches could have 22 lifeguards on a volunteer weekend patrol, but only five to seven paid lifeguards during the week. So it’s key that regional lifeguards are vigilant, proactive and apply their skill set to the best of their ability. It’s a lifeguarding model that is taught at Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s National Lifeguard School. The annual course combines dynamic

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theory sessions with a number of intensive practical and scenariobased activities to extend the selected candidates both physically and mentally. Those who complete a National Lifeguard School are awarded their Advanced Lifeguard Award—the highest award for surf lifeguards in New Zealand. There’s no struggle in the Bay of Plenty region when it comes time for recruiting regional lifeguards. Typically, there will be around 180 applications for 120 positions. It’s the more remote and outlying beaches around the country that struggle at times to get the required numbers.

in fact, it’s rare that they would spend more than 30 minutes on one post between the beach, club, tower and roaming patrols. Around 50 to 60% of rescues undertaken in New Zealand each season involve the use of an IRB, with the balance largely tube rescues. The patrol season begins in late October with the Regional Lifeguard Service beginning in December for the northern parts of the country. To find out more visit

Mr Mundy says one of the disadvantages of the Regional Lifeguard Service is that it is based around university holidays. “It’s rare to see a contract lifeguard over the age of 25 years old. It’s seen more as a summer job than a realistic career opportunity”, he says. International lifeguards are often drawn to working as a paid lifeguard during the Kiwi summer. This enables our lifeguards to make new connections and they’ll often go overseas during New Zealand’s winter and learn new skills. Mr Mundy says one of the big differences between Australia and New Zealand is the number of swimmers between the flags. Due to the geographic location of surf lifesaving clubs, there’s often large numbers of swimmers outside of the flags. There aren’t the same number of surf lifesaving clubs dotted along the coastline like there are in Australia. Where there are surf lifesaving clubs with flagged patrol areas, some days it could be standing room only, so swimmers spill over outside of the flags. Around 25% of lifeguarding is made up of roaming patrols using all terrain vehicles. Kiwi lifeguards are used to rotating between roles,





n August 2016, Ken Clark, Michael Wasley, and Craig Bowley travelled to Korea to deliver lifeguard training for the Korea Lifesaving Association.

The training took place from 18 to 21 August at the International Club on Jeju Island, with 26 local participants from various organisations—the Korea Lifesaving Association (KLA), the police (customs) and the YMCA. All of the candidates were pool lifeguards with high-level first aid and CPR skills, however none of them had ever paddled a rescue board, swum in the sea, or studied signals. Over the 4 days, with the help of interpreters, the Australians representing Surf Life Saving Australia successfully delivered the required skills to the KLA candidates at a competent level. The skills included rescues of conscious and unconscious patients on boards and tubes, patient assessment on the beach, underwater swimming and diving to recover objects from the ocean floor, signals, patrol set-up, health and safety, first aid and CPR. All candidates also achieved a run-swim-run in under 8 minutes. “All the candidates were very keen to learn and demonstrated an eagerness to be involved. Their first aid and CPR skills had already been established with their pool lifeguard training, so our objective was to train them up to ocean lifeguard standards, which included run-swimruns, board paddling and rescues, which they had never done before”, Clark explained. “KLA also has little to no equipment to patrol the ocean so it’s our intention to try to get them some secondhand rescue boards to help with future training and operations”, he added.

KOREA LIFESAVING ASSOCIATION Established in 1997 as the Lifesaving on the Water Association, they changed their name in December 2005 to the Korea Lifesaving Association. The KLA actively educates water lifeguards and rafting safety agents. In Korea, lifesaving education was once considered to be only for safety agents, and not something to be pursued as a leisure sport. However, KLA is working to change this view. Currently all training to be a water lifeguard is focused on unequipped swimming, so KLA is actively introducing the International Life Saving Federation’s advanced techniques and equipment and spreading its practical lifesaving education methods.

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JAPAN– AUSTRALIA LIFESAVING EXCHANGE PROGRAM 2016 Successful candidates Danny Adams, Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club Matthew Blackshaw, Wanda Surf Life Saving Club Michelle Jacobson, Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club Cassandra Moss, Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club


Four Aussies experience surf lifesaving Japanese style


urf Life Saving Australia has had a successful partnership with the Japan Life Saving Association (JLA) since 2007, and 2016 marked the third year JLA offered a surf lifesavers exchange program. After receiving a request from JLA for assistance in selecting candidates for the exchange program, SLSA sent out an expression of interest offering four people the opportunity to experience surf lifesaving on Japan’s beaches in July 2016. One of the successful candidates, Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club Captain Danny Adams, writes of his experience in Japan.

BLOG BY DANNY ADAMS Thousands of Australians visit Japan each year as tourists, but only four Australians will visit Japan as part of the Japan–Australia Lifesaving Exchange Program. We were offered the chance to work, learn and train with heaps of fellow Japanese lifesavers in a variety of locations. The first couple of days in Japan were a blur, meeting the fellow Aussies, as well as our hosts, and the local lifesavers.

And arriving in Onjuku … Onjuku is an amazing little resort and fishing village about 2 hours south-east of Tokyo. For the first 2 weeks we trained with the Onjuku Lifesaving Club and patrolled the three separate swimming areas on Onjuku beach. Onjuku is bordered by lush, green mountains that drop steeply into the sea. In 1609, a Spanish galleon, the

San Francisco, ran aground near Onjuku. The captain and 300 survivors were rescued from the ocean and cared for by the locals, mostly the women. Lifesaving, is considered an honoured part of the town’s history, starting with this rescue in 1609, and now Acapulco, Mexico, is a sister city to Onjuku. During the weekends and public holidays, crowds from Tokyo would come to the popular central section of Onjuku Beach, where they would picnic and celebrate with their friends. I was surprised by the popularity of inflatable toys, and the many varieties they came in. Groups would spend the entire day alternating between socialising on the beach and floating on the calm waters with their donuts. Although there was a gentle rip, most of our rescues were either lost ‘floaties’, or young people floating out to sea on their inflatables without the energy or urgency to paddle back to shore. We assisted with the water safety program at some of the surrounding schools. Tsunami is a real fear and risk, so many of the school activities were based around rescue and survival after sudden flooding or immersion. Along all of the corridors in the primary school lifejackets hang in case of a tsunami. For the final 10 days we transferred to Iwai beach, facing inwards towards Tokyo Bay. Over the horizon on clear days we could see Mt Fuji loom. We helped run the water program for school groups from Tokyo, many of the children had never swum in the ocean before. It was amazing having the children lose their fear of the ocean and get really excited to play on the nipper boards or play in the inflatable boats. Australian Lifeguard Magazine 47




ore than 250 guests were on hand at the Art Gallery of NSW for the 2016 National Awards of Excellence honouring Surf Life Saving’s best and bravest.

Surf lifesavers and dignitaries from around the country gathered to see Australia’s lifeguards and surf lifesavers recognised for their outstanding achievements.

Shane Bevan, from Queensland’s Australian Lifeguard Service took out the DHL Lifeguard of the Year award. Bevan has played a key role in mentoring the younger lifeguards across the Sunshine Coast. He is also actively involved with the World Surfing League, and has been providing water safety patrols for major surfing events since 2001. Pacific Surf Life Saving Club took out the prestigious DHL Club of the Year for the work they have done to increase their membership from 242 to 331 over the past season. Kane Hughes from North Cronulla SLSC was also among the night’s winners. He was awarded the DHL Lifesaver of the Year. Kane has been an asset to his club. He holds more than 70 awards, being qualified as both a trainer and assessor and completing an extraordinary 1,400 patrol hours. Other noteworthy awards included the DHL Volunteer of the Year presented to Jan Juc SLSC’s Daryl Moss. He received life membership at his club earlier in the year recognising the massive contribution he has made through various activities, including his mentoring and fundraising programs. Surf Life Saving Australia’s President Graham Ford AM reminded a captivated audience of what the night was all about, “Recognising achievements and acknowledging our members”. Mr Ford told the audience of mostly surf lifesavers, “Your efforts reflect Surf Life Saving’s role as a vital rescue and emergency service. Your actions show how we, as the largest volunteer movement of its kind in the world, have become a valued and beloved organisation to the wider community.” There was no greater reminder of Mr Ford’s words in the night’s proceedings than the meritorious awards. There were a grand total of 11 meritorious awards presented—two with silver inserts, the highest level of bravery award. The quality of all award recipients on the night was a testament to the organisation.



Angus is a dedicated and hardworking lifeguard. He performed multiple rescues at North Kingscliff that were deemed serious in nature, including three spinals at Kingscliff. Angus was commended for his efforts in performing CPR at Salt Beach, which resulted in the victim returning safely to her family.

Grant has been a key employee at both the Glenelg and Goolwa services. His ability to relate to all members and the wider community enables easy communication of surf safety messages, proving to be an invaluable skill. He was instrumental in growing the ALS brand with schools and external organisations.

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e may have dreamt of being a fireman when he was growing up, but the decision to become a lifeguard has certainly proven to be the right one for this year’s winner of the DHL Lifeguard of the Year award, Shane Bevan aka ‘Bevo’. Bevan grew up in Kingscliff, NSW, and has spent his life living on or near the beach— calling the ocean his second home. Having qualified in the top 44 in the world for surfing in 1997, his passion for surfing inadvertently lead him to lifeguarding. “In the summer of 2004, after working for 2 years on the water patrol team at Quicksilver Pro, a good friend who was a lifeguard, suggested I should think about lifeguarding. At the next fitness test I was there! It all just evolved from that moment”, Bevan said. He joined the Alexandra Headland lifeguarding service more than 5 years ago after relocating his family from the Gold Coast where he had been lifeguarding for 7 years.

“I’m passionate about helping people at the beach and making them feel safe. It’s important to prevent any dangers before they happen. I believe if the public can see you then they should feel safe”, he said. “Winning DHL Lifeguard of the Year means everything to me. It reflects how passionate I am about lifeguarding. I’ve achieved a few awards in the day, but this is a good one, and I’m very humble and proud to win it! I’m also thinking how can I raise the bar from here on in!” he added. Bevan plays a key role in mentoring and acting as a role model to the younger lifeguards, both in the Alexandra Headland area and across the Sunshine Coast. Since obtaining his Certificate IV in Training and Assessment in 2014, he has become one of the ALS– QLD RWC trainers responsible for the training and assessment of all new lifeguards.



Hayden demonstrated great leadership through assisting the management of the Bellarine region. Hayden undertook a 3-day Australian Emergency Management course at TAFE, focusing on developing the planning, management and leadership skills needed to conduct and evaluate emergency exercises.

Declan has been a highly valued member of the lifeguard service over the past 4 years, holding the role of Lifeguard Captain. This role enables him to mentor, train and coordinate scenarios with his team of lifeguards. Editor's note: APOLA were not able to be reached to supply their awards of excellence results.

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OUTCOME All three victims who were attended to by lifeguards and volunteers were airlifted to hospital. Tragically two of the victims passed away.


n 10 January 2016, after finishing their lifeguarding shift, Woolamai lifeguards Josh Eaton, Iain Marshall, Ryley Hannagan and Liam O’Brien, decided to head out for a swim in front of the Woolamai Beach SLSC clubhouse. What started as a casual evening swim turned into a major rescue incident.

As the four lifeguards made their way down the beach they stopped to talk with a group who were wading very close to a rip current in knee-deep water. They warned the group of around 15 people about the dangers of the rip and urged them to either follow them to the sandbar, or to leave the water.

Assisted by the surfer waiting on the shore, O’Brien was able to carry the unconscious male to the beach where he began to conduct one-person CPR. Eaton and Marshall returned the unconscious female to shore and also began CPR on her. After three cycles of CPR on the victims, lifeguard Daniel Webber arrived with the stocked ATV and additional Woolamai Beach SLSC members who assisted with resuscitation efforts. All together, eight lifeguards and volunteers contributed directly to the two resuscitations, and the treatment of a third patient in respiratory distress.

However, on their way back in to shore, the lifeguards noticed the same group making a big commotion on the beach—O’Brien swam over to find out what was happening. It was then the three other lifeguards spotted two swimmers out in the rip current to the right of the clubhouse and began to head over to rescue them. After talking with the group on the beach, O’Brien determined there were still two other swimmers missing, so he sent a surfer with one of the group to the clubhouse to raise the alarm. He also asked another surfer to help direct his search from the shore. After putting on his fins he began searching for the remaining two victims. Marshall spotted an unconscious male floating face down approximately 50m out from the beach in the rip current to the far right of the club. So, while O’Brien was swimming out to the unconscious man, he spotted an unconscious female floating face down roughly 10m further out—Marshall swam out to rescue her. Lifeguard Josh Cottier arrived on the scene with a tube and fins and assisted Marshall to bring the unconscious woman back to shore. 50 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

Liam O’Brien, Iain Marshall, Rob Murphy President of Bass Region and Woolamai Beach SLSC, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, SLSA President Graham Ford, Joshua Eaton and Ryley Hannagan.



Augmented reality to help educate Australian beachgoers


amsung Electronics Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) have announced a pilot program called Pocket Patrol—an augmented reality (AR) mobile application designed to help educate Australian beachgoers regarding rip currents and other hazards. Rips are the number one hazard on Australian beaches, yet two-thirds of beachgoers in Australia don’t know how to identify rip currents. There are 17,000 rips at beaches around Australia on any given day, presenting a significant safety risk to the millions of people who visit beaches around the country. During the pilot program, beachgoers at Coolum Beach and Alexandra Headland used the Pocket Patrol mobile app to learn about hazards at these beaches. Using the app, the smartphone screen shows an AR view, visually highlighting the position of rip currents, along with other potential hazards such as submerged rocks and shallow sandbanks. Each day, on-duty lifeguards and surf lifesavers identify rips and other potential hazards and update them in the Pocket Patrol app at the selected patrolled beaches. Along with the input from on-duty lifeguards and surf lifesavers, the mobile app uses a combination of AR, GPS, Compass, Gyroscope and image recognition to visualise identified hazards. Philip Newton, Chief Marketing Officer and Corporate Vice President, Samsung Australia said, “While the best way to avoid a rip is to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags, educating beachgoers on how to identify these hazards is also very important. We have developed an AR mobile app to

support the work of Surf Life Saving Australia because 95% of people who go to the beach carry their smartphone so it’s an education tool that can be readily available to the majority of beachgoers”. Shane Daw, Coastal Risk and Safety Manager at SLSA, added that education is vital to SLSA’s efforts in reducing risks for beachgoers. “All too often Australians get into trouble because they either haven’t checked for rip currents, can’t identify a rip or underestimate the strength of currents”, Daw said. In addition to developing the app, for those who can’t get to one of the beaches hosting the pilot program, a Virtual Reality and 360 film has been created so viewers can experience what it might be like to get caught in a rip in virtual reality. The purpose of the film is to provide a risk-free experience to assist in educating and igniting conversations about the importance of beach safety. It will be available on You Tube 360. For more information on Pocket Patrol visit, Note: Pocket Patrol is designed to promote surf safety only. It is not a safety or warning device, and must never be relied upon as a substitute for advice from an on-duty lifeguard or surf lifesaver and an understanding of your abilities in the surf. Surf conditions are variable. Hazard information may not be up to date and may not identify all hazards. Beach areas not identified as hazardous may still be hazardous and unsafe. Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach and between the red and yellow flags.

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 51



Queensland’s eye in the sky celebrates 40 years of saving lives

52 Australian Lifeguard Magazine


urf Life Saving Queensland’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will celebrate a significant and historic milestone when it notches up four decades of saving lives in December 2016. Formally established on 5 December 1976, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service (WLRHS) is one of the oldest community-based helicopter rescue services in the world and, since its inception 40 years ago, has directly rescued more than 850 people along Queensland’s coastline and flown in excess of 10,000 missions. With a team of highly trained men and women encompassing experienced pilots, professional staff and volunteer surf lifesavers, the service exists for one reason and one reason only: to save lives. Importantly, a concerted effort in recent years to increase integration between SLSQ’s aerial search and rescue service and its professional lifeguard arm is continuing to pay dividends and boost safety for beachgoers across South-East Queensland. Six ALS Queensland’s lifeguards have now completed their crewman training and participate in regular aerial patrols as part of the helicopter service. Maroochydore Senior Lifeguard Beau Farrell said, “It’s a great opportunity for me personally but, if you look at the bigger picture, it’s also a great avenue for lifeguards, giving them an opportunity to upskill and something to aspire towards”. I’d like to think the general public and everyday beachgoers can see the benefit as well. We have a helicopter there on call, every day of the year, and that’s pretty special.”

"With a team of highly trained men and women, the service exists for one reason and one reason only: to save lives." Australian Lifeguard Magazine 53


SWIMMING ABILITY OF THE AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC There is a gap between Australians’ swimming ability in the pool and in coastal waters. Surf Life Saving Australia’s 2014–16 National Coastal Safety Surveys revealed: ●●


While 31% of people say they are competent or highly competent swimmers in pools, only 21% rate themselves similarly in the ocean. Almost two-thirds of people say they have not swum more than 50m in the ocean in more then two years or have never swum that distance in the ocean.


Less than half (44%) of people usually swim at a patrolled beach during patrol hours and 21% of people usually swim at an unpatrolled location.

Many swimmers do not follow key safety procedures—only 19% always check the surf conditions; less than half (45%) always check for rips; and only 40% always swim with a friend. People’s poor swimming ability in the ocean and their low level of adherence to safety procedures form a dangerous combination that contributes to coastal drowning deaths.

Swimming Ability in General Swimming Ability in the Ocean





37% 23%

22% 16%

13% 9%


5% Unable To Swim

Weak Swimmer

Average Swimmer

Competent Swimmer

Highly Competent Swimmer



Can't Say

Able to Swim 50m in a Able to Swim 50m in the Pool without Stopping Ocean without Stopping

2014–16: Swimming ability of the Australian public

2014–16: Ability to swim 50m without stopping

Question: How would you rate your swimming ability? And how would you rate your swimming ability in the ocean? Australians rate themselves as less competent swimmers in the ocean than in other locations. While 31% of people say they are competent or highly competent swimmers in general, only 21% of people rate themselves similarly in the ocean.

Question: Are you currently able to swim 50m without stopping or touching the bottom? Are you currently able to swim 50m in the ocean without stopping or touching the bottom? While 59% of people say they are able to swim 50m or more without stopping in a pool or other enclosed body of water, only 37% of people say they are able to swim 50m in the ocean.





Swim for 15 minutes 28%



I Cannot Float or Swim I Can Comfortably Float for Over 1 Minute and Swim a Little Distance I Can Comfortably Float and Gently Swim for about 15 Minutes I Can Comfortably Float and Gently Swim for up to 30 Minutes I Can Comfortably Float and Gently Swim for up to 60 Minutes I Can Swim Constantly for Over 1 hour and Float as Long as I Wish

2016: Swimming ability in coastal areas Question: Which of the following best describes your current and unaided swimming ability in coastal areas? Almost one quarter of Australians (24%) say they can comfortably float or swim in the ocean for 15 minutes. While, 14% say they can comfortably float or swim for less than 15 minutes. 54 Australian Lifeguard Magazine



14% 27%

27% Never 24%


This Year Last Year 2-5 Years Ago 6+ Years Ago Never Can't Say

2014–16: Frequency of swimming more than 50m in the ocean Question: When was the last time you swam 50m or further in the ocean? More than one quarter of Australians have never swum 50m or more in the ocean. Only 12% of people have swum 50m or further this year.




1%2% 21%



2014–16: Usual swimming location

Patrolled Beach During Patrol Hours Only

Question: Where do you usually go swimming in the ocean? Less than half of the Australian population (44%) usually swim at patrolled beaches during patrol hours only, while 26% swim at patrolled beaches outside of patrol hours. More than one in five Australians (21%) usually swim at unpatrolled locations.

Patrolled Beach but Not During Patrol Hours Only

Patrolled Beaches

Unpatrolled Beach Rock Pool Harbour Pool Netted/enclosed Pool Can't Say





14% 10%

10% 8% 3%

Don't Know



Easier/Convenient/ Not as Difficult


No Reason


Better Waves for Surfing/Body boarding


Better Beaches/ Good Beaches are Not Patrolled


I Swim with Others


Risk/Adventure/ Freedom/Fun


I'm an Experienced Enough Swimmer


Peaceful/Relaxing/ Quiet

I Swim Outside Patrol Times

More Privacy/ Isolated

I Wade or Do Not go in Very Deep

Patrolled Beaches are Too Far Away

Patrolled Beaches are Too Crowded

It is a Safe Beach/ Calm Water

Beach Not Always Patrolled or not Patrolled at All


2016: Reasons for swimming at unpatrolled beaches Question: What are the reasons why you swim or wade at beaches/coastal areas that are not patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers, or outside patrolled times? One-quarter of people who swim at unpatrolled locations do so because they are not always or not ever patrolled. Some people do so because they think it looks safe/calm (14%) or to avoid crowds (14%).

100 90

4% 7% 31%



3% 2%



2% 3%


4% 26%


2% 1%

6% 19%





2% 2%

4% 12%





69% 60%



40 30




70 60




Can’t Say Never Sometimes Most of the Time Always

28% 19%

10 0.0

Only Swim at a Patrolled Beach During Patrol Times

Swim Between the Red and Yellow Flags When You are on a Patrolled Beach

Swim With at Least One Other Person

Check Surf Conditions with a Lifesaver, Lifeguard or Other Authoritative Source

Check For and Obey Safety Signs Posted on the Beach

Look for the Presence of Rip Currents in the Area Prior to Entering the Water

Avoid Swimming Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Follow the Advice of the Local Lifesaver or Lifeguard when You are on a Patrolled Beach

2014–16: Safety practices of swimmers Question: How often do you follow these swimming practices? Half (52%) of Australian coastal swimmers say they always swim between the red and yellow flags when they are on a patrolled beach. Only 40% of swimmers say they always swim with at least one other person.

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 55




ilates is great for preventing injuries for lifeguards and surf lifesavers. Due to the nature of the surf environment, you just can’t anticipate what’s going to happen next, so you need to be strong, agile and able.

person out of the water, carrying equipment and even when you are getting dumped in the surf, just being able to have that state of awareness to turn on the core in these situations is key—ensure the guy ropes support the sail!

Think of your spine as the sail on a yacht—designed not to have a lot of movement—and the muscles that support your spine as the guy rope used to hold the sail down.

Breathing is also a key element of Pilates—everything is based on the breath. Learning to breathe properly can take at least six Pilates sessions, but it’s the biggest factor in ensuring you can lower your heart rate—so important if an emergency situation arises on the beach. Imagine if you have to rescue a multimillionaire with crowds of people watching, you would have to bring your A game and gain more control of the situation—this is where your breathing comes in.

Once you have established stability through the pelvis and shoulders. Then you can look at mobility for the prime movers— the limbs that are designed to move. We use our limbs for everything we do, so mobility is really important.

Generally speaking though, Pilates is also just great for toning and tightening, and keeping everything stable, lean and strong—you can be the strongest you’ve ever been, but don’t expect huge biceps!

If you place load on a prime mover without the core and stability that’s when an injury occurs.


Pilates is based around core and stability. The core should be viewed as the whole torso from the head down—that’s all the way from your shoulder girdle to your pelvis, it’s not just about the area around the belly button!

Building the awareness of the small endurance muscles is really important. You need all the back muscles and the stomach muscles—not just the prime mover muscles. If you hop on a board for longer than 10 seconds you will need to use all the muscles up your back and around your spine—these are your endurance muscles. When you are engaged in any type of movement, your ability to build up a tolerance of load is important. When you’re lifting a 56 Australian Lifeguard Magazine

The most asked question is what is that number one exercise, stretch or stabilisation that will help me, but it really depends on each individual. I can’t just give a person one ‘go-to’ exercise as they really need to be screened for suitability. However, two key Pilates movements are the side plank and the front plank, explained below. Harries Carroll bases his Pilates instruction on Polestar Pilates, Dr Eric Goodman’s Foundation Training, and also the teachings of Dr Stuart McGill, a leading spinal specialist.




Prop yourself up on one hand with that hand directly under your shoulder. With your body at a diagonal angle, flex your toes back towards your face, and rest on the side of the sole of your foot. Energise the inner thighs to touch, making sure your glutes are switched on and your stomach is braced. Ensure your shoulder stays away from your ear.

Energise the heels together and your inner thighs to touch (imagine you are zipping up tight jeans). Make sure your glutes are switched on and your stomach is braced. Your hands should be under your shoulders, corkscrewing your hands into the ground—right hand goes right, left hand goes left just like opening a jam jar. Pull the ribs away from the floor, and lengthen out through the neck, pulling your nose and chin away (from smelly cheese).

Make sure you are breathing into the side of your ribs, the back of your ribs (the lower lobes) and the front of your chest.

"Most importantly Pilates is about ensuring longevity! It’s the maintenance man!"

Make sure you are breathing into the side of your ribs, the back of your ribs (the lower lobes) and the front of your chest.

THE OOV Designed in Bondi, the OOV allows you to breathe correctly because of your posture. The structure has the same curves as your back, and complements three of the curves

in the spine, so there is no vulnerability to back pain. The OOV is pretty much for everyone—99.9% of people can use the OOV as it is much more protective for the spine.

Australian Lifeguard Magazine 57



New program proves a lifesaver in Brisbane


n innovative new safety initiative introduced 2 years ago at Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands is continuing to play a key role in Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) efforts to protect swimmers and eliminate drowning deaths at the popular tourist spot.

SLSQ’s groundbreaking Safety Ambassador Program was launched at Brisbane's South Bank in 2013 following the non-fatal drowning of an unsupervised child. This incident followed a spate of rescues, also involving unsupervised children, prompting SLSQ to take action and look at alternative strategies to boost protection. Thanks to vital support from South Bank Parklands, the initiative sees an extra senior lifeguard onsite during peak holiday periods. While providing an additional set of eyes to watch over swimmers, the extra lifeguard is also responsible for increasing engagement with, and education of, visitors and swimmers. Depending on crowd numbers, ALSQ Chief Lifeguard Greg Cahill said the safety ambassador could be based in the water, along the shore, or at identified high-risk areas for rescues and other incidents. “Their job involves monitoring children in the water and pairing them with parents, liaising with visitors and warning them about any potential dangers, and proactively encouraging safe swimming practices”, he said. “If they identify a swimmer out of their depth, or an unsupervised child in the water, they have an opportunity to intervene and take proactive measures to prevent a potentially serious situation from developing any further”, he said. Since its inception, the ambassador role has performed in excess of 25,000 preventative actions and directly rescued almost 50 people.

58 Australian Lifeguard Magazine



Fat bikes rolling out on SA beaches


urf Life Saving SA will be trialing the use of all-terrain bicycles as patrol vehicles this season. More commonly known as ‘Fat Bikes’ the sand-going bicycles feature specially designed 4-inch thick wheels allowing them to ride on soft sand. Surf Life Saving SA’s Lifesaving Operations Manager Andy Bedford said, “When we started to see these bikes pop up on our beaches being used recreationally by adventure sports people, we were very impressed by how they handled the sand and immediately began thinking about the ways we could use these bikes on patrol”. They are now working with a number of bike manufacturers to refine a rescue-specific rig and test various models on patrol with both their lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers. The trial will include options to carry communication, rescue and first aid equipment and will move along the coast in a variety of beach environments. “We are very excited to be putting this kind of bike to the test in a trial. We will be testing their suitability and durability in a range of beach conditions and we hope to demonstrate that they are an affordable, healthy and environmentally conscious alternative to motorised vehicles”, Bedford said. With many of the more popular beaches in South Australia under environmental protections or holding marine park status, these bikes offer a less impactful way to patrol in some sensitive locations. Bike patrols also offer a fun way to cover more ground than patrolling on foot while keeping the social interaction with the public that makes pedestrian patrolling so effective in preventative care. “We anticipate the public interest in these bike patrols to be significant, we have seen the popularity of police and ambulance bike patrols with the public and we are looking forward to getting out there and chatting to more people about beach safety while we are on duty”, he said. 59


LIFEGUARD SNIPPETS FINAL TRAINING FOR SLST VMR GROUPS In April 2016, the first 14 members of Surf Life Saving Tasmania’s (SLST) Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) groups completed the Maritime Training Package (MAR) of Nationally Accredited Training that started over 12 months prior with the Elements of Shipboard Safety (ESS) and culminating with their Certificate 2 Coxswains. SLST has delivered in partnership with Volunteer Marine Rescue Queensland and Seafood Training Tasmania over 60 members with ESS training and most of them are working through the MAR

SMITHS BEACH COMMUNITY-BUILT CLUBROOMS The opening of Smiths Beach Surf Life Saving Club’s new storage and training facility in October 2016 wasn’t just an everyday event—the facility was almost entirely donated and built by the local community. More than 40 club and community members provided over 1,500 hours of voluntary help over 18 months, and in excess of 20 local companies were involved with the donation and supply of goods and services— even the land was donated. Smiths Beach SLSC president Matt Jones said he

package of Competencies. The qualifications form part of the national standard that all VMR groups have around the country. SLST has committed to provide this training to all active VMR members as well as its own Emergency Response Team members that are located in SLS clubs around the state. The members attended the training to become more skilled in responding to waterway incidents, which usually occur in inclement weather and when other boaters are heading for shelter. is extremely proud to have received such a high level of community support. “I believe this build is unprecedented”, Matt said. “The level of commitment to the cause was quite astounding to say the least. We were able to source earthworks contractors, drillers, concreters, sheetmetal workers, roofers, electricians, gyprockers, stone masons, landscapers, painters and plumbers just through asking,” he said. In addition to being community-built, the new clubrooms are self-sustainable—with a rainwater tank supplying water and portable solar panels providing the power.

NEW AND IMPROVED BEACHSAFE WEBSITE SLSA’s Beachsafe website (, has been rebuilt to include additional functionality and redesigned to improve the user experience and update content. It launched in early October 2016. An accompanying app is currently being completely re-developed and will be launched shortly. The website includes videos linked to SLSA’s rip current public awareness campaign: How to Spot a Rip Current and How to Survive a Rip Current. The videos are available here: https:// surf-safety/ripcurrents

Chris Peck, SLSWA General Manager (Lifesaving and Training), said the new facility embodies the spirit of surf lifesaving.

RIP CURRENTS PUBLIC SAFETY CAMPAIGN Rip currents are the leading cause of coastal drowning deaths in Australia, averaging at least 19 per year. SLSA has created a public safety campaign focused on raising awareness about rip currents. The campaign was developed in collaboration with SLS state offices. The strategy was shaped using findings from recent behavioural insights research undertaken by Ipsos Social Research Institute. The target of the campaign is the high-risk demographic—young men aged 15–39 years, primarily Australian residents. The focus for the campaign is dispelling myths about rip currents and challenging young men’s perceptions that they’re not at risk. The campaign launched on Sunday 9 October 2016, and received solid media coverage across all commercial channels and SBS. It is designed to run for multiple years, with the aim of the first 2 years to raise awareness of the rip hazards with young men. It was also featured on the Sunday Night program on 6 November. It is running in above-the-line media, social media and multilingual media. A large focus is promoting the messaging through social media channels directed at the key demographic. The campaign will also run on Virgin Australia flights. To complement the campaign, two educational videos about identifying and surviving rip currents have been created. They are available here: 60 Australian Lifeguard Magazine



GEAR INSPECTION GOES ELECTRONIC IN VIC Since December 2015, volunteers in Victoria have been able to conduct gear inspections online using their smart phones and iPads after the launch of an app to help streamline the process.

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL SEASON IN BROOME On Sunday 30 October 2016, lifeguards finished another busy season patrolling Broome’s spectacular Cable Beach. Shire of Broome Manager Sport and Recreation, Casey Zepnick, said it was a busy year that included the successful appointment of Surf Life Saving WA mid-season to provide lifeguard services until 2019. Mr Zepnick said that more than 126,000 people visited Cable Beach during the 2016 season and lifeguards performed 12 rescues, attended one major first aid incident and 219 minor first aid incidents, carried out more than 6,650 preventative actions including warning swimmers, surfers and other beachgoers of rips, rocks and other hazards, and undertook net drags for marine stingers twice a day. “The transition to SLSWA providing lifeguard services to the Shire of Broome went seamlessly, with the only change the public would have noticed being the switch from blue lifeguard uniforms to the traditional red and yellow.”

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) hopes that the ability to conduct gear inspections and audits electronically will help to reduce the administrative burden on volunteers. The process enables surf lifesaving clubs to inspect their equipment on a mobile device, regardless of whether or not they have a data connection at the time of the inspection. State officers can also conduct audits and review the clubs’ initial inspection information to sign off on operational equipment. LSV Lifesaving Operations Manager Greg Scott says it is a great advancement in technology to help reduce the burden of paperwork on volunteers. “This new technology is likely to mean that volunteers have more time for their primary role of being on the beach and watching the water,” said Mr Scott.

CONTRACT EXTENSIONS FOR NSW The professionalism and dedication of the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) have been recognised by councils across NSW with a number of contracts in key coastal areas being extended. ALS NSW Manager Brent Manieri said that the contract extensions were a just reward for all the hard work from the entire lifeguard team. “For us, establishing strong relationships with councils and other stakeholders has been a critical part of our strategic plan over recent seasons. These relationships have allowed us to open dialogue with councils on issues that are challenging to confront”, Mr Manieri said.

SLSWA Lifesaving Services Contract Manager, Peter Scott, said they were pleased to be awarded the Broome Lifeguard Service.

“The safety of all beach users will always be our number one priority and the councils respect us for our work. This is a great credit to the efforts of the 300 plus lifeguards that we employ each summer, and I think one of greatest strengths is that they are members of their community as well.”

“As the largest provider of paid lifeguard services in WA, it means the community and visitors to the world-renowned Cable Beach receive a seamless and integrated beach safety service with the consistent application of standards, procedures and equipment”, Mr Scott said.

Since the end of the 2015–16 summer, the ALS has renewed contracts with Byron Bay Council for a further five seasons; Tweed Shire Council until at least 2021; Clarence Valley Council for an additional four seasons; and Lake Parramatta on a 1 year renewal.

TSUNAMI AWARENESS Tsunamis occur infrequently but have the potential for severe destruction. The Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Japan tsunami in 2011 are stark examples of the threat. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) held its first annual tsunami awareness day on 5 November 2016. The campaign reached more than 22 million people across the globe. For more information visit: tsunamiday/#events In September 2016, SLSWA, SLSSA and SLST (in conjunction with the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre and emergency response agencies) participated in IOWave16—an Indian-Ocean–wide tsunami exercise. It involved 24 countries and was the largest tsunami exercise ever seen in the area. SLS offices tested communications in the affected areas. The exercise allowed SLS to identify areas for improvement in communications and operations. Australian Lifeguard Magazine 61


NEW VICEMERGENCY APP Victorians are being encouraged to download a new app, which will provide emergency warnings on fires, floods and even shark sightings. The VicEmergency app will replace the 6-year-old FireReady app and will be available in time for summer. Life Saving Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the Victoria State Emergency Service and various government departments provide the information for the app. Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley says it was time to expand the capabilities of the FireReady app to include all types of emergencies. For existing FireReady users, the app can be updated. New users can download from the app Store or Google Play.

TASSIES INDIGENOUS KIDS LEARN ‘SKILLS FOR LIFE’ In December 2015, Surf Life Saving Tasmania (SLST) launched a new program providing an introduction to swimming development and aquatic safety for young Tasmanian Aboriginals. Surf Life Saving Tasmania, Swimming Tasmania, St Michael’s Collegiate School together with Aboriginal Sport and Recreation teamed up to develop a program that places a major emphasis on water safety and empowering indigenous young people to use lifesaving skills in a range of aquatic environments, including rivers, lakes, dams, beaches and pools. SLST CEO, Tony van den Enden said “Surf Life Saving Tasmania continues to work towards our goal of safer Tasmanian waters and zero preventable drowning with a focus on prevention through providing lifesaving services and education programs”.

SUCCESSFUL NSW SEASON More than 300 lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) enjoyed a highly successful 2015–16 season on NSW beaches. Lifeguards patrolled over 80 locations, which included beaches, pools and a lake from Tweed Shire in Northern NSW right through to the Bega Shire in Southern NSW.

ABALONE FEVER West Coast Zone Abalone season opened on 6 November 2016, with some alarming statistics—in the first hour of the season there were 54 rescues, 292 preventative actions and 1 first aid. Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) urge people every year to remain mindful of the conditions and to take personal responsibility for their actions through the abalone season. “Since 2012 there have been three deaths while abalone fishing and in the past 3 years surf lifesaving services have had to perform 42 rescues of abalone fishers—an alarmingly high number for this one recreational activity”, SLSWA General Manger Chris Peck said.

CONFERENCES 2017 3–7 April: 15th World Congress on Public Health: Melbourne, Australia. 22–23 May: 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference: Gold Coast, Australia. 24 May: 2017 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference: Gold Coast, Australia. 17–19 October: World Conference on Drowning Prevention: Vancouver, Canada.


They performed 831 rescues, enacted over 246,000 preventative actions and administered 6,417 first aid treatments. There was a slight dip in overall attendance figures but with just under 4 million visits recorded, clearly a visit to the beach is still a popular pastime.

SLST volunteers, Tasmania Police, SES and other volunteer groups combined forces as part of a multifaceted search and rescue exercise at St Helen’s over 2 days in September 2016. The exercise brought emergency services together to promote interoperability and provide opportunities for professional development and maintain training competencies.

ALS NSW Manager Brent Manieri said, “There were a number of challenges throughout the year as there are every season but our lifeguards handled everything thrown at them with the highest degree of professionalism and conduct that the public has come to expect from the ALS”.

“The aim of this exercise is to provide skills and competencies for our members who are likely to be deployed to assist other emergency services in search and rescue operations from time to time”, said Paul Hawkins, Project Officer Offshore Rescue Services for SLST.

Mr Manieri also said that one of the most pleasing aspects of the season was the continuing strengthening of relationships with councils and other contract partners.

“Incidents don’t always occur on the beach in summer for surf lifesaving to be called upon. We are often called on in the winter months to assist in emergencies”, Hawkins said.

62 Australian Lifeguard Magazine




FEMALE Location

Contributing Factors

29% 17% 14% AT THE BEACH








Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2016




3 20


8 22

53 4