Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue crew members, from left, Garry Meredith, Captain Mark Puglisi, and Brad Heard.
Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue crew members, from left, Garry Meredith, Captain Mark Puglisi, and Brad Heard. Cathy Adams

Surf life savers rescue 146 people in season

SUMMER is gone and at least 146 people can thank volunteer surf lifesavers of the Far North Coast they are still around.

The true number of those alive today because of the efforts of surf lifesavers is likely to be much higher, but is hard to quantify.

Figures released by Surf Life Saving Far North Coast shows the 1300 patrolling volunteers operating from 10 clubs between Yamba and Fingal performed 146 rescues over the past season and more than 9000 "preventative actions", such as telling people to swim between the flags.

Ironically, this has been a relatively quiet summer. Last year surf lifesavers saved someone in trouble nearly twice as often, 277 times.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast director Ben Redman said that, backed by the high number of preventative actions, pointed to the vigilance of surf lifesavers in helping swimmers to stay out of trouble in the first place.

They get called upon all hours of the day and night to assist with rescues and vessel capsizes and other emergencies

Also backing that suggestion was an increase in the number of emergency call-outs to unpatrolled beaches. This year surf lifesavers were called on to help 82 people away from patrolled areas - up from 65 last year.

"The clubs' call-out teams are ready to go all year 'round," Mr Redman said.

"They get called upon all hours of the day and night to assist with rescues and vessel capsizes and other emergencies."

First-aid figures are also well up at 735, from 512 in 2011-12. The number of rescues and associated first-aid responses made the Far North Coast region's volunteers the busiest outside metropolitan Sydney.

Mr Redman said the skills and work ethic of our region's lifesavers were recognised across the country, citing "dedication and professionalism" as two distinct qualities.

"Our volunteers are consistently nominated in state and national-level awards," Mr Redman said.

Next month SLSFNC will hold its annual awards ceremony.

A previous winner, Harrison Murphy, went on to win NSW junior of the year.

The figures 2012-13

  • Rescues: 146
  • Emergency call-outs: 82
  • Preventative actions: 9159
  • First aids: 735
  • Active patrolling members: 1300
  • Total membership: 4619

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