Emergency Response

Welcome to the Emergency Response section of the website. In this section you will find:

Emergency Callout Teams/Surf Emergency Response System

The SLS Surf Emergency Response System was introduced in January 2008 to give Emergency Services (primarily NSW Police) a single point in contact to advise SLS of incidents along the NSW coastline. This system enables the on-duty State Duty Officer to be contacted 24/7.

Club/Service Equipment Preparedness

Clubs and services should ensure that core items of emergency response equipment are set up and ready to respond 24/7, including;

  • IRB (fully set up with a full tank of fuel)
  • ATV
  • Radios
  • Oxygen equipment
  • Defibrillator
  • Rescue tubes
  • Rescue boards

Club/Service call-out team

Each club/service should also identify and form a team of qualified members who may be available to respond (if available) to incidents at their beach (and surrounding areas) outside of patrol hours and/or in support of an on-duty patrol. This team should be made up of appropriately experienced and qualified personnel who are versed in the relevant SLSNSW procedures and any/all branch/club specific plans/procedures. Clubs are to have a minimum of 6 members on their call out team; most clubs have between 10 and 20 members.

Support Operations

Surf Life Saving Support Operations consist of Offshore Rescue Boats (ORBs), Jet Rescue Boats (JRBs), Rescue Water Craft (RWC), Duty Officers and SurfCom. Support Operations are designed to enable multiple high-risk areas to be patrolled without the overhead costs of establishing a new Surf Life Saving Club, additionally they assist Clubs in patrolling their beach during dangerous surf conditions and peak times.

All Support Operations members complete regular patrols for their club during the season and must be an endorsed member to complete patrol with the various Support Operations groups. To enquire about joining a Support Operation, contact your Club Captain or Branch Director of Lifesaving for more information.

The locations of Support Operations are determined through a risk analysis process to ensure that resources are appropriately placed along the NSW coastline. The ongoing Support Operations Review has aimed to strengthen this process as Surf Life Saving continues to grow.

IRB Night Operations

IRBs are a valuable patrolling and response tool that allows Surf Life Saving to quickly and safely respond to search and rescue incidents. Occasionally these incidents occur close to sunset, and the fading light makes the use of a rescue board and RWC dangerous. Operating an IRB in fading light is still dangerous; however, a specific low light/night IRB training program has been developed to help reduce and minimise the risks. Any club in New South Wales can undertake the specific low light/night IRB training and prepare their Emergency Callout Team for incidents during low light and night conditions. Clubs will need to ensure that;

  • Club/service is branch/state endorsed for IRB Operations (Low Light/Night)
  • The club/service holds the minimum required equipment (see SLSNSW Standard Operating Procedures)
  • Appropriate members are available and trained in ‘IRB Operations (Low Light/Night)’ by endorsed branch/state representative

Clubs interested in becoming night operations capable should contact their Branch Director of Lifesaving and training can be organised.

Critical Incident Debrief

The environment in which Surf Life Saving operates has the potential for members to be involved in serious incidents of a high-intensity and traumatic nature, and which do often involve death, serious injury and/or significant risk to lifesaving personnel.

A critical incident debrief is undertaken to ensure that:

  • Member welfare/support is optimised
  • The ability to re-establish core lifesaving services is achieved
  • Obligatory paperwork and data is recorded, collected and forwarded appropriately
  • The Surf Life Saving response is documented for future review or for legal reasons (if required)
  • Surf Life Saving is best positioned (through effective data collection) to provide drowning prevention recommendations to the Coroner and relevant local government authorities.

Expert Counselling

SLSNSW has a contract with a private counselling organisation. Expert counselling plays the following roles in SLS Critical Incidents:

  • Provision of trauma information/brochures
  • Provision of three free 24/7 counselling sessions to members once approved by SLSNSW
  • Provision of psychological first aid (emotive debrief) training to Branch Duty Officers and Peer Support Officers
  • Provision of group counselling sessions for significantly traumatic critical incidents

Accessing expert counselling:

Individual Counselling Session (post-incident): Members (or their parents for 18 years or younger) can request an individual counselling session as they deem necessary.

For more information please contact SLSNSW Lifesaving Team.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management is an extremely important factor or Surf life Saving. Surf Life Saving NSW sits on a number of committees such as Local and Regional Emergency Management Committees, Local and Regional Recuse Committees and Marine Advisory Sub Committees. These committees have certain plans put in place to cope with emergencies which are robust, effective and flexible enough to deal with the range of emergencies experienced in New South Wales.

The Surf Life Saving representatives join together with other agencies including the Rural Fire Service, Marine Rescue, State Emergency Service, Police, Ambulance etc. Meetings are usually held every four months, giving agencies time to work together on issues such as recruitment, operational coordination, and community engagement if an emergency was to occur. Surf Life Saving is also involved in Search and Rescue Training Exercises (SAREX). These exercises are coordinated by NSW Water Police with assistance of presenters from RAN, NSW Ambulance, and NSW Surf Lifesavers.