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Volunteer surf lifesavers have helped to avoid 46 near drownings across an intense weekend on the NSW coastline which saw the summer drowning toll rise to 16.

240 rescues were performed over the two days between Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February, with nearly 300 first aids delivered and just under 5,000 preventative actions undertaken.

While there were 46 near drownings prevented by the actions of volunteers on our beaches, unfortunately a 16th coastal drowning for the summer was recorded on the North Coast on Saturday.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC) was advised at around 5.12PM of an incident unfolding at South Valla Beach near the footbridge – an unpatrolled location north of Nambucca Heads.

An 85-year-old female was recreationally swimming when she got swept out by a rip and was located by family face down in the water who commenced CPR. Surf Life Saving NSW assets were tasked to the scene but the female was later declared deceased by NSW Ambulance.

Saturday saw eight near drownings requiring lifesaving intervention including a 20-year-old female who took on a significant amount of water at North Palm Beach and two swimmers in distress at New Brighton Beach on the Far North Coast.

That number ballooned to 38 on Sunday, including a mass rescue at North Cronulla that saw assets from across the Bate Bay engaged to rescue 20 people in distress.

Just after 3PM the SOC was advised that a flash rip had seen 20 people caught in the ocean who were rescued by volunteers, lifeguards and support services. Surf Life Saving NSW assets including Rescue Water Craft and Inflatable Rescue Boats were engaged to assist in the mass rescue.

One male in his 40s was retrieved unconscious before regaining consciousness on the beach following a round of defibrillation, while a further four people required oxygen before being transported from the beach by NSW Ambulance.

“After two huge months for our volunteers, this weekend just past is a reminder that there are still many more weeks of work ahead,” SLSNSW President, George Shales OAM said.

“The work surf lifesavers do on our coastline to keep beachgoers safe continues to be extremely valuable and the sheer number of near drownings that were avoided this weekend is testament to that.

“I would like to once again thank our dedicated volunteers for their tireless work during what is proving to be a record-breaking summer in a number of categories.”

Monday 6 February 2023