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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

NSW beach drownings concern life guards

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A spate of drownings at NSW beaches, including the death of a man believed to be a tourist, has prompted warnings from Surf Life Saving NSW.

A group of eight people, believed to be tourists, got into trouble at a beach near Tweed Heads on Monday afternoon.

Life guards rushed to save them but a 22-year-old man was unable to be revived after he was hauled from the surf.

His death marks the 17th coastal drowning in the state since July and comes weeks after a teenager and 11-year-old boy drowned in separate incidents on the NSW mid north Coast.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce says the latest tragedy reinforces the need for water safety warnings to be heard and understood.

However the Australian Medical Association says the dangers of drowning are not just limited to the beach.

More people died in creeks and waterways around Australia than at the beach in 2016/17, according AMA president Michael Gannon.

Almost 70 people died in creeks and waterways compared to 50 at the beach, while more than 40 people drowned in swimming pools.

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  1. Four deaths on the most northern beaches of TSC is alarming and could possibly be the largest number of drownings in the ocean within a spat of three years in one shire.
    Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce concerned of how alarming this is and if funding from the Federal/State/Local Government be introduced to enhance ‘all’ popular tourist destination beaches in N.S.W. & Australia overall there is a quick and sensible solution to solving the rapid increase in drownings being:
    Equip ‘drones’ capable of the following; a speaker to re-assure the victim that to swim with the current or to give confidence that a rescue is proceeding and will give aid urgently and as soon as possible.
    The drone capturing the victim by video link displaying the ‘stress’ level he/she is going through and the urgency required.
    The drone capable of long distance to ensure that the victim is visually and audibly readable at all times for a distance that could be determined by the locality of the operation HQ of the drone who would be the executive of the Surf Life Saving NSW CEO and other state stakeholders to identify.
    It’s time that the available technology is utilised to the fullest and if there is a conflict with airspace by CASA, I would suggest that CASA give consideration to changing the flight path of certain aircraft to allow the drone to safely carry out the task of rescuing if the situation could arise instead of being ‘locked-in’ to a SOP and unwilling to change to new and embracing technology in the name of safety.


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