Lifesavers prepare for bumper season on beach

Lifesavers are preparing for a bumper season, as the coastline looks set to be the destination of choice amid a pandemic.

The red and yellow flags go up on Far South Coast beaches for the October long weekend. Further north, the season launches earlier on September 26.

Far South Coast director of lifesaving Cheryl McCarthy said beaches were already seeing more visitors.

"We are expecting a busy season; already we are seeing more visitors for this time of year," she said.

Lifesavers ready to brush up their skills at a power craft training weekend at Tathra.

Lifesavers ready to brush up their skills at a power craft training weekend at Tathra.

Before lifesavers get back out between the flags, Ms McCarthy said group training was needed.

"It's definitely time for us to hit the water again, to up-skill our teams and get the training we need," she said.

"We have a training weekend booked at Tathra on September 26-27, which will be a fantastic opportunity for lifesavers across our branch to come together to share and learn skills.

"We are mindful of the challenges around COVID and we are working hard to provide training opportunities within COVID guidelines."

NSW Surf Lifesaving CEO Steven Pearce said beach patrols would be "as normal as possible in this new COVID world".

He said surf clubs were preparing to be extra busy.

"Because of COVID travel restrictions interstate and nationally, we think this summer, more than ever, the NSW coastline would be the destination of choice," Mr Pearce said.

"We think it will be really busy from a beach visitation perspective - which means a higher number of rescues, preventative actions and first aid."

Lifesavers of the Far South Coast at a power craft training weekend with facilitators from Sydney.

Lifesavers of the Far South Coast at a power craft training weekend with facilitators from Sydney.

After bushfires and COVID cut last season short, Mr Pearce said there was "strong anticipation".

"I think this year, more than ever is when we really need our members to stand strong and be out there on the beach - we are going to be so busy with people flocking to the coastline," he said.

"Just like firefighters stood up with the bushfires, and everyone looked at them for protection, I think the same thing will apply this year with our lifesavers and lifeguards."

COVID-19 has changed surf lifesaving operations. Clubs have been sent COVID patrol packs with protective wear and a new set of procedures for CPR and first aid.

"We are confident we have everything in place to look after our members for patrolling," Mr Pearce said.

"CPR and response has to change to incorporate physical distancing and touch for the safety of members."

Surf Lifesaving NSW had distributed $1.2 million to clubs across the state after sponsorships and fundraising was hampered by COVID and bushfires.

Mr Pearce said the Government also responded with funding after clubs showed a new level of service to the community.

"Far South Coast and South Coast clubs really showed a new dimension and element of surf lifesaving that we haven't seen before," Mr Pearce said.

"During the bushfires, lifesavers turned around from facing the water and faced straight back into the community."

"In response to that, the Government recognised (them) as well."

Mr Pearce said a whole new round of funding for South Coast and Far South Coast branches will better prepare clubs and upgrade infrastructure in the advent of natural disasters.

"One thing we really did see was the change of philosophy of surf clubs - they are true community hubs," he said.

Mr Pearce said the bushfires "rejuvenated old members and attracted new members".

"They saw exactly what lifesavers can do in and out of the water," he said.

"The role of lifesavers has changed so much; it's no longer just lifesavers on the beach - you are also lifesavers back within the community."

This story Lifesavers prepare for bumper season on beach first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.


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