TRAGEDY has hit the northern beaches four times this Surf Life Saving patrol season, with four men drowning in our waterways.
The seven-month patrol season ran from 18 September 2021 until Anzac Day 2022, and during that time 18,766 active members gave up 140,370 hours to keep the community safe.
The men who drowned were between 49 and 60 years old, and the toll included two rock fishermen – a 59 year old man in Dee Why Headland on November 28, and a 53-year-old man at Narrabeen Headland/Turimetta Beach on January 1 this year.
Additionally, a 49-year-old man who was cruising Dobroyd Head on January 22 went missing and sparked a search that lasted days. On March 27, a 60-year-old man who used a surf ski in North Palm Beach drowned.
This season, volunteer lifeguards performed 531 rescues, more than double the 263 the previous season.
There have also been double the number of shark alarms, 24 in 2020-21, to 51 this season.
“We had a lot more pollution in the water due to flood overflow which brought in more small fish and with less fish means bigger fish and sharks so we had a lot more shark alarms “said Tracey Hare, president of SLS Northern Beaches Branch. Boyd said.
Pollution and wild weather also forced the cancellation of many scheduled events at the Lifesaving Championships at Queenscliff, with a reported gastro outbreak among competitors and spectators.
I thought, can we throw something else?
Newport Surf Club Bec Capell Junior Activity Chair
Newport Surf Club junior activities president Bec Capell said lifeguards face many challenges.
“Because of COVID, all of our kids came to the clips without any swimming skills,” she said.
“Then we came over Christmas and all the rain came down and we had big waves and a cyclone off the coast.
“High tides and erosion meant there wasn’t much sand for the kids to run around in and that meant using the venue a lot. I thought, ‘can we throw something else?’ It was a really tough season, but the kids were always positive and the parents laughed about it.”
Despite all the challenges, Ms Capell said the conditions meant it was a good opportunity for rescuers to hone their theoretical skills. “It’s something we always try to do, but when the surf is good it’s hard to do theory,” she said.
2021-22 Northern Beach Patrol Season
- Rescues – 531
- Drownings – 4
- Preventive actions – 16,305
- Active members – 18,766
- Patrol Hours – 55,641
- Shark Alarms – 51
- After Hours Incidents with Police – 20
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