Northern NSW lifeguards finish their patrol season this weekend.
The Australian Lifeguard Service, in partnership with local councils, has patrolled more than 40 beaches along the northern NSW coast during the swimming season, utilising more than 120 lifeguards.
“Whilst most services were for the five-week Christmas holidays, daily services have been provided right through the season at Salt, Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Shelly Beach,” co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said.
“Despite beach attendance figures being well below average due to the generally poor weather right through the season, lifeguards were kept busy.
“More than 400 people required to be rescued. The vast majority of these were relatively easy rescues where people found themselves in deeper water and were unable to cope.
“An important part of a lifeguard’s duty is to carry out preventative actions — where the Lifeguard advises a swimmer that they are swimming in a dangerous location, swimming outside the flags or has proactively provided other safety advice.
“It is undertaken usually when the swimmer is in danger of getting into trouble. During the season, lifeguards carried out more than 35,000 preventative actions.
“Lifeguards provided first aid and emergency care treatment to 650 people.
“Many of these were minor cuts, lacerations and marine stings.
“In one case, the Lifeguard at The Pass (Byron Bay) quickly recognised a seriously ill infant who was suffering the effects of immersion.
“He commenced treatment and his actions resulted in saving the child’s life and ensured a speedy recovery.”
Mr Leahy said that unfortunately, five people lost their lives along the northern NSW coastline.
There were two deaths in Nambucca Shire and two deaths in the Byron Shire. Peter Edmonds lost his life at Ballina in a shark attack in early April.
“It’s an absolute credit to the team who have provided an outstanding service to the community under some very trying conditions,” Mr Leahy said.
““I believe that we have some of the best lifeguards in the world based here in northern NSW.
“They have made sure the public remained safe even when it was cold, windy and pouring with rain.
“Lifeguarding is more than just a job and their dedication has made sure our beaches have remained safe over the summer.”
While most beaches complete summer lifeguard services, daily lifeguard services will continue at Salt (South Kingscliff) and weekend lifeguard services will continue at Casuarina until the end of May. Volunteer surf lifesaving patrols also finish this weekend.
During the winter months, emergency response teams will provide a 24-hour search and rescue service to the police and ambulance services.