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As one of the smaller surf clubs on the state’s Mid North Coast retaining numbers has always been a challenge, but at Camden Haven SLSC it’s hoped that some out-of-the-box thinking will ensure a secure future.

For aspiring surf lifesavers there is nothing more critical than passing the Bronze Medallion Course as without that prize qualification patrolling is not possible.

Fortunately Camden Haven’s President Michelle Garvan has a passion for passing on her surf knowledge acquired over years of dedication to the red and yellow and genuinely enjoys putting the rookies through their paces.

Last summer she got talking to one of her new recruits Tony Miller who just happened to be both a paramedic and the head teacher of the course at Port Macquarie’s campus of Charles Sturt University.

After much discussion the gestation of an idea began to emerge.

Because of the nature of their future career path he thought that his students could benefit from seeing how lifesavers operate, while Michelle leapt at the opportunity to introduce her club to the students.

At the beginning of the second semester in August, CSU Campus participated in the first of its kind scenario training with volunteer lifesavers from Camden Haven.

“It was a great day of training. Our lifesavers went and rescued a patient pulling them out of the surf before starting the initial first aid treatment including pulling out a defibrillator,” said Garvan.

“About 15 minutes later the paramedic trainees responded just as they would in a real-life situation and then we did a handover of the patient. It was really beneficial for us as we got to see how they work and they got to see us in action and then constructively talk about how to improve.

“That type of feedback is really important as we are all emergency responders and have to work closely together during an incident,” she said.

What particularly excited the President was an opportunity to get the students involved in lifesaving.

“We’re looking at getting them involved in the club to help out on patrol with a very flexible arrangement. Understandably they won’t nor will they be expected to help out all the time but outside of class and during their university holidays we’re hopeful a few will be able to help out.

“They’re exactly the type of people we want to attract to surf lifesaving and are keen to expand their knowledge and skills.”

A second scenario training session took place on Father’s Day this time involving the CSU students, lifesavers, and local volunteers from the SES.

This incident involved a simulated helicopter crash with multiple victims and was much more labour intensive as all three assets combined to hone their skills on the water and in the bushland surrounding their scenic beach.

After receiving positive feedback the club is hopeful of organising a third session in the near future.

“We’re looking at involving members of the local Fire Brigade for our next scenario. We get a lot of hang gliders round here and sometimes they will need to be rescued.

“As a small community we need to have strong relationships with all the other emergency services so we hope to make these sessions a regular occurrence,” said Michelle Garvan.

“You need to have innovative thinking and we were inspired by the State Conference to challenge ourselves,” she said.

One thing for certain is that truly that particular Bronze Medallion Course was a match made in heaven.

CSU Students and Emergency Services Discuss Rescue Techniques - Courtesy of Camden Haven SLSC/Michelle Garvan

Camden Haven Lifesavers were delighted to take part - Photo courtesy of Camden Haven SLSC/Michelle Garvan

The training will help promote interagency cooperation - Photo courtesy of Camden Haven SLSC/Michelle Garvan


Thursday 13 December 2018