South-west lifesavers perform more than 3000 preventative actions

LIFESAVERS and lifeguards at south-west beaches have been involved in more than 3000 preventative actions since November.

Statistics based on estimates from beach patrols show they attended to 51 cases of first-aid and rescued 16 people from drowning over the lifesaving season, while undertaking 3183 preventative measures at Warrnambool, Port Campbell, Narrawong, Port Fairy and Portland.

These measures include any actions preventing a swimmer from requiring rescue, such as informing them of known rips in the area, pollution, or broken glass.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club president Michael Owen said it had been a successful season at Lady Bay, with no major incidents, despite more swimmers on city beaches.

“It’s been a busier season than normal because of the weather we’ve had,” he said.

“It was a warm summer and even at Lady Bay we’ve had to put extra patrols on.

“A lot of our prevention is trying to get people to swim in the safest place on the beach.

“We haven’t had any major incidents in the area.

“Our training has been a focus for the season, which has strengthened our patrol group. 

“Every patrol has someone who can look after spinal problems or use the inshore rescue boat.”

Life Saving Victoria lifesaving club development general manager Andrew Foran said the statewide figures showed a significant decrease, thanks to variable beach conditions between seasons and a proactive approach to lifesaving. 

“With even more people visiting our patrolled beaches this summer, our lifesavers and lifeguards have made every effort to ensure beachgoers’ safety,” he said.

“During the heatwave experienced in January, a number of clubs put on additional patrols on weekdays and evenings, going  above and beyond their usual patrols to meet the needs of beachgoers.

“Our volunteer lifesavers make a huge contribution to beach safety, giving up their time to look out for others over the holidays and on weekends, when most of us are relaxing.” 

With beach patrols now finished for the season, Mr Foran stressed it was even more important for people visiting the beach to be aware of ever-present risks and take responsibility for their own safety. 

“Drowning deaths occur all year round, not just in summer. 

“In Victoria, more than half of last year’s drowning deaths happened outside of summer.”

Lifesaving patrols will recommence for next season from November 2014.

For further beach safety information, visit beachsafe.org.au or download the beachsafe app for your smartphone from the app store or Google Play.

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