The following was originally published by Bega District News.
Forward from SLSNSW President George Shales:
“The following account from Pambula SLSC's Chris Briggs demonstrates how truly exceptional and inspirational our members are. In a time of despair and crisis, with resources and personnel critically stretched we have seen over 150 boaties competing in the George Bass drop everything to respond and provide assistance is amazing, humbling and truthfully, not surprising.
"We constantly describe our lifesavers as iconic, and the actions of Chris and all other boaties, families and fellow lifesavers in this crisis support this community acknowledgement. Well done to everyone."
Pambula lifesaver Chris Briggs was in Bermagui with his George Bass Marathon surf boat crew when the call to evacuate came in. Rather than head to the Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club as emergency evacuees, they jumped into action as helpers. He shared his story with us.
1 January 2020.
Yesterday I have never been so proud to be a member of Surf Life Saving.
While camping at Bermagui, near the grounds of the Surf Life Saving Club for the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon everything changed.
We woke at 5.15am to the ping of an emergency text informing all persons in the area to evacuate to the Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club. Our club and several others were already there so we moved from surf boat competitors and campers to emergency evacuation helpers.
Thousands of people moved into the small town in just a few hours with their families, pets and very few personal belongings.
Surf Life Saving members manned the first aid centre, continually treating people while others manned computers and note pads trying to account for everyone arriving. Others went off to supermarkets to get supplies to cook for the masses, cooking thousands of sausages and making sandwiches continuously all day.
We had cars bringing pallets of bottled water, toilet paper, dog food, toothbrushes, baby formula and personal hygiene items over to the evacuees and others distributing everything. Our call-out teams prepared IRBs and Jet Skis ready for any beach evacuations.
Surf lifesavers worked tirelessly with other emergency organisations, continuously for hours to make sure all the evacuees were looked after with little thought for their own needs.
I think every surf lifesaver should be so proud to be a member of this awesome organisation and give themselves a massive pat on the back for stepping up to the plate in such a catastrophic situation.
Well done everyone involved
Chris Briggs, Boat Captain of Pambula SLSC
Friday 3 January 2020