Tuesday 28 March 2017
The Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) estimates 13 people were prevented from drowning on Sapphire Coast beaches during the summer of 2016/17.
ALS was contracted by Council to provide professional lifeguard services across eight local beaches stretching from Camel Rock in the north to Aslings Beach in the south, during December and January.
A wrap up of the season has just been presented to Council staff, which highlights the value and importance of beach patrols during the region’s peak tourist season.
An estimated 145,942 people were recorded visiting patrolled beaches during the summer school holidays. Merimbula’s Main Beach was our busiest with over 35,000 visitors, followed by Pambula with over 21,000 and Tathra Beach with just under 21,000.
During the season lifeguards performed 137 significant rescues and 10,108 preventative actions, which includes advice to people swimming outside the red and yellow flags.
Bar Beach at Merimbula presented a number of challenging days to lifeguards. The beach was the scene of 82 of the Shire’s 137 total rescues. Strong currents from an outgoing tide on December 26, January 1 and January 12 saw 27 people rescued on those three days alone.
“We allowed for an extra lifeguard to be deployed to Bar Beach this summer given its reputation, so it’s satisfying to know people were kept safe,” said John Grady, Council’s Leisure and Recreation Manager.
The majority of people rescued right along the Sapphire Coast were visitors from Canberra and Victoria.
“We have a duty of care to everyone that visits our beautiful beaches during the peak season, and the support of ratepayers is key to meeting that need,” Mr Grady said.
The stats presented don’t take into account the contribution made by volunteer lifesavers each weekend.
“The volunteers at local surf clubs provide a valued service and we are grateful to the women, men and teenagers that give their time to patrol our beaches outside the days covered by Council.”
Photograph: Bar Beach, Merimbula recorded 82 of the 137 rescues performed by paid lifeguards over summer