Last weekend five patrol captains from the far north coast travelled to Sydney for the weekend to participate in the Surf Life Saving NSW Lifesaver Exchange program. Simon Wallace, Nicholas Patton, Stuart Wright, Phillip Kelly and Kyle Beattie (not pictured, from Cabarita Beach) were among 12 patrol captains who participated in the program.
For most the experience was a huge eye opener; on the day the group patrolled Bondi there were more than 20,000 people on the beach – a busy day on the beach at home for some of the visiting lifesavers is 200.
‘The Lifesaver Exchange Program was a really great experience. Coming from a regional area it was great to see how the bigger patrols operate and it helped me to better understand the role of surf life saving in the community,’ said Ballina SLSC participant Stuart Wright.
The Lifesaver Exchange Program provides an ‘urban’ patrolling experience to young patrol captains from regional branches by rostering them on busy Sydney city patrols such as Bondi, Coogee and Maroubra over a long weekend.
The program benefits the regional lifesavers by helping them to learn strategies and receive practical experience on how to manage high-intensity patrolling situations that they may not traditionally be exposed to on their own beaches. In exchange, city patrol captains also get an opportunity to visit a country club for a weekend and mentor lifesavers and assist with implementation of new strategies and ideas.
While the main aims of the program are to broaden the lifesaving experience of participants, promote the development of lifesaving skills and increase lifesaving standards across NSW, this program also acts as a fantastic way to reward young lifesavers who tirelessly volunteer many hours each season to keep the NSW public safe.
Image: Nick Patton, Stuart Wright (both from Ballina), Simon Wallace (from Evans Head) and Phillip Kelly (from Yamba) hit Bondi Beach to test their skills.