Before they are let loose on the beautiful beaches of the state’s north, the lifeguard class of 2014 had to head back to school for a few days as they ramp up preparations for a busy summer season.
Last week, a group of 46 lifeguards from across the north coast descended on Camp Drewe near Lennox Head for three days of theory and practical work, as they learnt just what it means to be a lifeguard.
From Tuesday through to Thursday, the youngsters worked on their fitness, conducted mock search-and-rescue operations, and were introduced to the policies and procedures that they will be need to become familiar with as they strive to keep our beaches safe.
Lifeguard coordinator for northern NSW, Scott McCartney, said the group came together well, and that the camp was a highly successful experience for everyone involved.
‘The camp was all about giving everyone the skills and knowledge to be a good lifeguard as they prepare to start their summer patrol on some of the state’s busiest beaches,’ said McCartney.
‘Many of them come from a volunteer lifesaving patrol, so part of the camp was teaching them the differences between that and being a professional lifeguard. For instance, while they are used to being part of a patrol of up to eight members, as a lifeguard they may be patrolling a beach solo or with only one other person.’
While the camp involved plenty of hard work, there was time for some lighter moments, with time set aside in the evening for people to get to know each other.
The statewide push to get young women interested in becoming lifeguards appears to be working with 20 new attendees at the camp, with hopes of attracting even more in the future.
‘We’ve been very fortunate on the north coast in that we’ve always had a fairly balanced gender ratio, but our aim is to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone,’ said McCartney.
With summer just around the corner, and plenty of city-dwellers heading for a coastal escape, the class of 2014 will soon be out in force on north coast beaches.
‘It’s the first lifeguard gig for everyone, and they’re really looking forward to the summer season. They’ve now got a really strong theory base, and practical knowledge, and I am confident that they’re going to have a positive impact on the beach this summer.’