Season-end For Surf Lifesaving Patrols In The Northern Region
A final round of patrols by Bethell’s Beach lifeguards this weekend (10 & 11 April) marked the end of the patrol season by Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) lifeguards for the 2020/2021 season.
Patrols for the rest of the Region’s 17 clubs concluded at Easter and the Region’s 18 Emergency Call Out Squads (ECOS) will now attend any incidents that occur off-season.
Lifeguards across the Northern Region saved a total of 148 lives during patrol hours this season, with a further 264 assisted to safety and a total of 25,968 preventative actions, stopping 114,679 people getting into trouble.
This tremendous effort by the guards is no small feat, with SLSNR Chief Executive Matt Williams noting the season has again been a busy one. “While visitor numbers were not as high as in previous years, there was still plenty of work for lifeguards, though there was a relatively low level of events occurring in the patrolled area. What was also notable was that the call on our lifeguards has continued to change, with a much greater focus on responding to incidents involving water-craft, particularly jet-skis.
“Along with our lifeguards’ incredible preventative work, we also want to commend the public for working with us to keep themselves as safe as possible by swimming between the flags and following instructions given by our teams.”
On top of keeping the public safe in the water, Lifeguards searched for 95 people, gave emergency first-aid to 108 and performed 622 minor first-aids, with members volunteering 65,976 hours to beach patrols.
ECOS kept busy
SLSNR Search and Rescue Supervisor John-Michael Swannix says after hours, the Region’s ECOS received 100 requests for assistance – more than triple the 31 requests the region had in the 2019/2020 season. “Our ECOS have played an active role in 64 of these incidents, saving 41 lives, assisting 6 people to shore, searching for nine people, giving emergency first aid to 18 and assisting in the recovery of eight bodies.”
As of Easter weekend, Northern Region now has a total of 18 Emergency Callout Squads (ECOS) Baylys Beach now having an active squad. Despite only starting in October 2020, the Whangārei Heads ECOS has been the busiest this season with 12 after-hours incidents resulting in nine lives saved and three bodies recovered.
Swannix says the finish of the patrol season means beachgoers need to be more vigilant when in and around the water. “If you see someone in distress in the water then call 111 and ask Police for the Surf Lifeguards. This will activate the local ECOS who can perform a rescue. The main thing is to keep the person in trouble in your sight so we know where they are.”