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April 18, 2021

Byron lifeguard on surf-rescue mission to Chile

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Byron Bay lifeguard Grace Hamilton is off to Chile next month as part of an international surf lifesaving exchange program.
Byron Bay lifeguard Grace Hamilton is off to Chile next month as part of an international surf lifesaving exchange program.

Byron Bay lifeguard Grace Hamilton, the only Australian chosen for an international surf lifesaving exchange program travelling to Chile next month, is looking forward to teaching Chileans about surf safety, as well as giving them much-needed equipment.

Grace, from Suffolk Park, juggles a fairly busy life with her professional lifeguard work, studying at Southern Cross University (where she’s in her third-year of a nutrition and complementary medicine degree course), as well as teaching first aid to employees of a national company.

In January, she’ll spend three weeks in Chile training and educating locals to improve their first aid and rescue techniques.

‘I’ve been offered an incredible opportunity on the non-profit 2015 Chile Lifeguard Exchange program with the International Surf Lifesaving Association, and have the privilege of being the only Australian selected for this program, travelling with three other lifeguards from the United Kingdom and the USA,’ Grace told Echonetdaily.

‘Our aim is to teach and learn new rescue techniques, educate locals on first aid and offer our services as lifeguards and trainers for the duration of the trip,’ she said.

‘My passion is first aid and water rescues. All my life I have grown up around the ocean and have volunteered with surf lifesaving for over six years, taught first aid through the surf lifesaving club, and been a professional ocean lifeguard for five years.

‘I want to educate everyone to eliminate fear when around water environments and to have a better knowledge towards how to handle first aid situations,’ she said.

Grace said the four lifeguards in the group were arranging suitable equipment to take over to Chile to donate to local communities.

‘There is a large shortage of wetsuits for children, proper protective eyewear and other appropriate protective equipment,’ she said.

‘We will be visiting a lifeguard program that works with children in Valparaiso and is always in need of children’s wetsuits. Any old or donated appropriate equipment would be more then appreciated.’

Grace said the Chilean community and International Surf Lifesaving Association were helping the lifeguard tour with some costs, such as accommodation, but ‘there are still out-of-pocket expenses that we need to address, these include flights, travel, food and any protective equipment for donations to the local communities’.

She said cash donations for the non-profit lifeguard volunteer program could be made to the Byron Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, by visiting https://chuffed.org/project/humanitarianlifeguard or email [email protected] for further information.

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