28 December 2020

Lifesavers respond to crowds and incidents

| Karyn Starmer
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Surf lifesaving

Surf lifesavers on duty at Moruya Beach. Photo: Moruya SLSC.

Surf lifesavers have been responding to numerous incidents across the Christmas period, including a drowning at Mungo Brush, Myall Lake on Saturday.​

On the South Coast and in Wollongong, beaches were deemed to be over-crowded and restrictions were implemented. Alerts were issued on the Beachsafe website and app for locations including Surf Beach near Batemans Bay and Austinmer in Wollongong.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said lifesavers responded to several incidents, including 158 rescues conducted by volunteers throughout NSW.

“Emergency incidents have been significant this weekend – 71 in total. There were 38 on Sunday alone,” Mr Pearce said.

Despite COVID-19 cases continuing on the Northern Beaches, flags will still be flying at beaches today, with lifeguards providing patrols across the region, ensuring people’s safety for recreation or exercise.

Life Guarding Services Australia CEO Stan Wall said Surf Beach was unique among the beaches patrolled by the Eurobodalla Shire contractor with the combination of king tides and a hot day drawing crowds of people to a long narrow beach with an incoming tide.

“We got close to the point where people were unable to maintain 1.5 metres between groups and needing to close the beach, but the tide turned and gave everyone more space,” Mr Wall said.

Far South Coast Director of Life Saving Cheryl McCarthy said the other volunteer-patrolled beaches on the Far South Coast had not reported any crowding issues.

“People were spreading out nicely and being responsible at our beaches,” Ms McCarthy said.

“FSC Surf Life Saving volunteers saw some good visitor numbers at our four patrolled beaches with a hot day yesterday. People were doing a great job of respecting the space of others and spreading out along the beaches, and we’re grateful to all who are making the effort to stay a towel’s length apart.”

Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales said he was proud of the efforts of lifesavers across the state in keeping people safe over Christmas.

“I want to thank the thousands of volunteers who are giving up their time to patrol beaches across NSW. This is traditionally a very busy period, and we’ve seen large crowds heading to the coast. We are urging everyone to play it safe around the water and make sure you head to a patrolled location where lifeguards or lifesavers are on duty,” Mr Shales said.

Since 1 July 2020, there have been 17 coastal drownings recorded in NSW waters.

For information about patrol times, weather and beach locations visit the Beachsafe website or download the Beachsafe App.

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