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Message from George Shales, President Surf Life Saving NSW, regarding SLSNSW's response to the NSW bushfire crisis.

Dear Members,

We are attempting to endeavour to keep you all up to date with how SLSNSW is responding to and supporting those impacted communities traumatised by this bushfire crisis.

Operationally we have utilised all our Surf Life Saving Clubs as evacuation centres, our lifesavers have become first aiders, comforters, friends and companions of strangers in need. We are currently deploying a taskforce of lifesavers this afternoon equipped with IRBs, jet skis and first aid equipment to standby for potential water response and evacuations in the Shoalhaven and South Coast.

We are no longer revered as 'just lifesavers', we are now lifesavers who are also emergency responders, capable of doing what is needed in these times of crisis. Stories continue to emerge of amazing actions conducted by our lifesavers. It is indeed truly humbling to hear these and know the commitment we all have for our communities, friends and colleagues.

The biggest question we are receiving now is... 'What else can we do to assist?'

We understand many clubs are now rallying to raise funds, collect clothing and food and water to transport down to these affected areas.

These are truly magnanimous and gracious gestures. We need however to be cognisant that for the next week at least, it will be almost impossible to transport these goods down to the affected regions.

We (SLSNSW) have only just managed as of late last night to send resupplies of oxygen, generators and first aid equipment to our clubs isolated in these regions.

SLSNSW will be announcing next week how as an organisation we will assist with resupply of goods and equipment to these impacted communities over the next few weeks, just as we did earlier last year for drought-affected farmers. So stay alert for this message with further details if you wish to assist.

We think it will be more powerful and have a greater impact if we coordinate this centrally. This will also allow the emergency services and communities appropriate time to regroup and commence recovery after this terrible event.

If you do wish to donate funds now to those affected communities, or families of firefighters that have lost their lives in this emergency, please refer to the NSW Rural Fire Service website for the details on how to do so.

Thanks again for continuing to demonstrate what it means to be lifesavers.

George Shales,President, Surf Life Saving NSW and 

Steve Pearce AFSM, CEO Surf Life Saving NSW


Top photo by Alex Coppel

Friday 3 January 2020