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In late December 2018, Doug Hawkins led one of the largest Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) courses in the country at Coogee SLSC. Among the 84-strong squad of new lifesavers were two 13 year-olds, Ginevra Aiello and Amelie Filippi.

Little did they know, their new skills would be put to use to save a life almost immediately.

The SRC is the transitional course between the Surf Life Saving Nippers program and the Bronze Medallion. It aims to develop and support young members between 12-14 years as they move into becoming patrolling members and future leaders of the movement.

Coogee SLSC is proud of their consistently strong program. “We tell these kids they aren’t obtaining a certificate, they are becoming a surf lifesaver,” says Doug. “They’re joining a team, they’re part of the patrol and their skills have to match those of the patrol. We set a solid benchmark and they enjoy achieving it.”

On 28 December, Ginevra and Amelie were enjoying a day at Freshwater beach with their families. As they were packing up to leave, they headed into the surf for one last swim in the moderate two-foot waves.

Right in front of them was a woman struggling to keep herself above water.

“I immediately swam towards her without taking my eyes off her,” Ginevra spoke with amazing maturity as she recounting the incident. “There was no hesitation about what I had to do.”

Amelie who was further out in the water, saw the fast response of her friend as she headed towards the flailing patient. Without missing a beat, she swam to assist.

“The woman started to panic,” said Ginevra, who reached the woman first. “Her husband was alongside her but he didn’t have the ability to help her.”

Doug Hawkins has trained thousands of young lifesavers and has known the girls since they began Nippers as Under 6s and commented that they were two of the most focused during their eight-week SRC training. During that time they undertook simulated scenarios, rescue training, CPR and theory.

Using their newly acquired lifesaving skills, the young girls were able to reassure their patient and her husband as they guided them onto a sandbank.

When they reached the shallows, the girls wrapped their hands around their patient’s waist to perform a two-person carry until she was safely on the beach.

As they approached shore, Amelie signalled and shouted to a bystander for assistance in the carry while the two continued to reassure the patient.

“People don’t understand how dangerous and life-threatening it can be to swim outside the flags,” said Ginevra after her first rescue. “If you’re not a strong swimmer or understand the ocean and how fast conditions can change, you can get into a lot of trouble, and there might not always be someone there to help you.

“If we hadn’t completed our SRC I’m not sure we would have had the capacity to help,” said Amelie. “It’s given us the confidence to do something and potentially save a life in this kind of situation.”

In their trainer’s opinion, the girls are destined to become great leaders in the club and the organisation.

Ginevra obligingly added, “After this experience we appreciate the skills we’ve been taught through Nippers and our SRC course at Coogee SLSC. We’re thankful for the time and effort our trainers put into teaching us how to be good lifesavers. We’re so grateful we could help save a life this summer.”

A proud trainer, Doug concluded, “The girls responded so well. They didn’t think, worry or question their skills. They knew they had a situation on their hands but they had the confidence in their skills to do what needed to be done quickly. Their actions are great testament to the training our organisation provides and the great people we have involved.”

Between 1 December 2018 and 28 February 2019, surf lifesavers and the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) in NSW performed 3,098 rescues.


Tuesday 2 April 2019