When an after-hours rescue call came through to the Birubi Point Surf Life Saving Club at Port Stephens, NSW, Patrol Captain Steve quickly assessed the situation and had his team on the move. Some local surfers were signalling for help and it was soon clear that three people were caught in a rip.
With daylight fading, Angus, a 15-year-old new Bronze Medallion holder, was first on the scene. After paddling out on a $1,575 rescue board for about 100m, it was clear to him immediately that they were just in time. “He was really pale in the face, and as I pulled him onto the board you could hear him gasping for air. This was my first major rescue, and it really hit me when I was out there that it was bad.”
Angus managed to return to shore with the man, while the other surf lifesavers battled the ocean to safely rescue the remaining two swimmers. The rest of the team had prepared the first aid equipment and spent at least 30 minutes monitoring the swimmers’ conditions until the ambulance arrived. Thanks to the commitment, swift action and skill of the volunteer surf lifesavers everyone survived.
Surf Life Saving has been operating in Australia since 1907, providing swimmers with a safe environment to enjoy the great Australian beach lifestyle.
Surf lifesavers young and old have been volunteering their time and effort to protect beachgoers around the country for over 100 years. Every year more than 100 million beach visitations are taken by Australian and international visitors, for a swim or surf between the famous red and yellow flags. These beach visitors are protected by amazing services of 313 Australian Surf Life Saving clubs.
While surf lifesavers volunteer their time to patrol our beaches, lifesaving equipment, training, community education programs, and the provision of support services costs money: on average it’s $91,000 for a club to set up patrols for Summer. Rescue gear and equipment represents the biggest single cost to running lifesaving services in Australia due to the ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement required to operate in the Australian sun, surf, and sand.
The cost of providing this surf life saving services, including the use of facilities, uniforms, essential first aid equipment and rescue gear, comes at great expense. Surf Life Saving also provides education programs to the wider community. The clubs receive limited funds from government and therefore rely on community donations to keep our beach communities protected.