Australian Lifeguard Service Closes Books on Beach Season

It has been a busy but successful 2014/15 season for lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) as they kept watch on 83 beaches, 2 resorts, and one lake throughout NSW.

There was a slight dip in beach attendance in comparison to the 2013/14 season, however numbers were north of 4 million meaning that lifeguards throughout the state were in demand, particularly over the summer holiday peak periods.

In recent seasons there has been a greater emphasis on preventative actions as lifeguards attempt to stop situations from escalating to the point where they need to carry out a rescue. Preventative actions include things such as identifying potential hazards and asking swimmers to move back between the flags. Throughout this season there were 274,000 instances of preventative actions performed, an increase of 23% on 2013/14.

Correspondingly, rescues fell with only 825 carried out in comparison to the 892 of the previous season. The most rescues occurred in the Pittwater Local Government Area with Bega and Tweed Shires also recording high numbers.

Lifeguards were kept busy administering first aid treatments for a variety of incidents throughout the 19 ALS contract areas, including suspected spinal injuries, fractures, marine stings and dislocations. This was an increase of 28% on last season.

The professionalism and vital contribution of the ALS was recognised by a number of councils with the extension of services in some regions as well as widespread praise for many successful rescues conducted by lifeguards.

In what is regarded as a boost in beach safety for the ever increasing number of visitors to the picturesque Shoalhaven region, the ALS has been contracted to provide professional lifeguard services at the eight patrolled beaches across the region for the next five years.

At Tathra, the ALS provided lifeguards for an additional month after a local business consortium banded together to fund a trial expansion of services. This year was also the first full season that the ALS patrolled Byron Bay’s Main Beach year-round and this decision has proved popular among tourists and locals alike in the Far North Coast holiday mecca.

Australian Lifeguard Service NSW Coordinator Brent Manieri says it has been a highly successful season for lifeguards across the state.

“Lifeguards patrol a huge area of coastline with each beach throwing up its own set of unique challenges but the professionalism that our staff continue to exhibit and the enthusiasm they show for the job means the public were vigilantly watched and provided with the highest possible service at all times this season,” Mr Manieri said.

“Our relationships with all ALS councils continue to strengthen each season and we look forward to building on these crucial partnerships as we strive to achieve our core goals of drowning prevention and protecting the public on NSW beaches.”

Many NSW councils have realised the benefit of ensuring a total service provision, as the Australian Lifeguard Service integrates with Surf Life Saving’s volunteer patrol structure, state-wide support operations network, 24-hour emergency callout system and strategically located Westpac Rescue helicopter services.

Australian Lifeguard Service 2014/2015 Statistics:

• Rescues - 825
• Preventative actions – 274,658
• First Aid – 5,607
• Beach Attendance – 4,107,436

Fri 12 Jun 2015