Far South Coast lifesavers get rescue ready

Far South Coast lifesavers said the weekend's training was much needed after a long break between seasons.

Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) drivers and crew from all seven Far South Coast clubs gathered at Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club, September 26-27.

IRB's are a vital piece of equipment in surf lifesaving. The boats come in different shapes and sizes but all hold the same rescue equipment and require skill to operate.

The Australian Lifesaving Boat Emergency Rescue Training (ALBERT) was very beneficial for lifesavers after the season was short, says program leader Damien Woods.

"People have been away from the surf and this activity for longer than normal, this refresher of this type is more important now than ever," he said.

Trainers took lifesavers back over basics with launching and beaching techniques, boat maintenance, wave work, patient pick-ups and search and rescue scenarios. After a year in review, the program is now fully funded by Surf Lifesaving NSW and will roll out across the state.

"We will hopefully run three or four of these across the state each year," Mr Woods said.

To get the most out of training, the Sydney lifesaver said it was important volunteers "got in there and had a crack".

"The sharing of skill sets is the best way to improve," Mr Woods said.

"It's a volunteer role; we are not doing it all the time, so have to get in there and improve our skills."

And that's exactly what Far South Coast lifesavers did.

Pambula's Ruby Bichard, 16, was one of many young "crewies" who took the opportunity to jump into the drivers seat for experience.

"I learnt a lot of new skills and really solidified the ones I had," she said.

"The training was really helpful for beginners, because it was so flat."

Moruya's Shane Mass was grateful of wave action on Sunday, where drivers and crew practised in shore-dump conditions: "Learning to go in and out in breaking swells is really good for Moruya, because that's what Moruya is like."

You're never too old to learn new tricks ...

Steve Dobson - Narooma SLSC

Another young lifesaver, Sierra Chew of Broulee Surfers also appreciated the wave work.

"I am relatively new to crewing, and it was great to get more familiar with the duck," she said.

"Practising starts in shore dumps, even though Broulee doesn't have shore dumps, it was good to extend my knowledge."

Branch UAV (drone) coordinator Joel Doble of Batemans Bay said: "The mentoring was awesome; there was a lot of feedback and experience to draw from."

The more experienced drivers picked the brains of trainers who all had IRB racing backgrounds. Narooma's Steve Dobson had 25-years of driving under his belt, and was one of many to hone in on skills as well as learn new ones.

"You're never too old to learn new tricks," he said.

"These fellas had some great tips and pointers on the way you maneuver the craft and position your body."

He said it was a chance to "broaden horizons and learn from others."

Branch president Tony Rettke thanked the ALBERT team and said their expertise was "fantastic to be around".

He congratulated the branch committee for organising a successful weekend with COVID-19 precautions in place.

This story Far South Coast lifesavers get rescue ready first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.


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