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It’s not only office workers who are turning to video conferencing to communicate and keep in touch during the Coronavirus pandemic. Surf lifesavers are also using this technology to stay connected with other surf club members after the Coronavirus brought forward the end of the volunteer Surf Life Saving patrol season.

For many surf lifesavers, regular patrol duty provides an opportunity to catch up with friends and the social contact is something they look forward to. In addition to the attraction of spending time on the beach and giving back to the community, patrol camaraderie is important for many people’s wellbeing. So, when the beach patrol season ended early due to the Coronavirus, many surf lifesavers were disappointed that their regular catch-ups with other surf club members would no longer be possible.

Palm Beach Surf Club Patrol Captain, Doug Lucas was one of many lifesavers disappointed about the early end of the patrol season. However, in the absence of regular beach patrols, he set up a ‘virtual patrol’ for all his team to join for a catch-up. And after their first ‘virtual patrol’ was a success, he’s encouraging other patrol captains to do likewise.

“My patrol was rostered on Sunday 5 April for the morning patrol at Palm Beach. It’s only been a few weeks since Patrol 11 stopped patrolling, but people have started missing each other and the club mateship already. So, as Patrol Captain I decided to work out this Zoom video conferencing business and organised a zoom patrol,” said Doug Lucas.

“So at our sign on time at nine am the team got together and 15 of us signed in for about an hour and chatted away. Most of the team were actually in patrol uniform and some even wore zinc on their face to really get in the mood.  Of course, being on patrol we ensured we had all our awards covered and no lives were lost!

“We chatted about what everybody had been up to with some funny stories around COVID- 19. It was great to share a few laughs and some Australian humour. We talked about next season and getting everybody back in the same patrol.

“We also talked about our last patrol on 26 April where we will again have a Zoom meeting and a patrol awards presentation online. I’m presenting awards for ‘Best Patrol Member’ and ‘100 Percent Patrol Attendance’,” Doug said.

Although Doug has been a Patrol Captain for 25 years, he said that it was the first time he had used technology to bring clubbies together. He said that because he also works in support operations and was still patrolling on jestskis and in the offshore rescue boat himself, he hadn’t initially realised how much his patrol team was missing the regular social contact on the beach.

“For clubbies missing their mates and fellow patrollers, or those feeling a little down and isolated by COVID 19, I strongly encouraged other patrol captains to organise a virtual patrol team catch-up,” Doug said.

“While the current situation with Coronavirus is terrible, there certainly are many, many positives coming from it as well - and with a positive outlook we will all beat this and be back on the beaches in red and yellow doing what we love together before we know it,” he said.

Surf Life Saving NSW has a website dedicated to the Coronavirus which includes member welfare and support information. It can be accessed here.


Wednesday 8 April 2020