Don’t React – Respond, say Lifeguards

7 years ago | by

A number of recent incidents at Park Beach have led Council’s Lifeguards to urge people to please remember and follow important water safety rules.

“During the Christmas week there was an incident where a young child was caught in the outgoing tide near the mouth of Coffs Creek and a number of people jumped in to help, but ended up needing to get rescued themselves because they didn’t have any flotation devices with them,” said Greg Hackfath, Council’s Team Leader Lifeguard Services.

“We totally understand the impulse to help in a situation like that – but we would urge people to respond, not react. In the first instance they should try and alert the lifeguards but, if it looks like they might need to try and do a rescue themselves, they should grab a flotation device. At the end of the day, they need to keep their heads above water, as well as the person they’re trying to help. Responding, not just reacting is the way to help save lives.”

Lifeguards are also keen to remind parents to keep a very close eye on their children near the water as they have observed a number of close calls involving unsupervised children.

The number of drownings in NSW since Christmas has also prompted Council’s Lifeguards to highlight the successful water safety programmes they run called the Ocean Safety Surfer Award (OSSA) and the Ocean Safety Awareness Award (OSAA), which are predominantly aimed at school students.

“We’ve trained thousands of kids over the years from schools from a very wide area, including many inland places that have little experience of the ocean, and we also run special courses for recent migrants and former refugees who may not have even seen the ocean before they move here,” said Greg.

“But the people most likely to drown, according to national statistics, are actually men aged between 25 and 45. So we want to put a call out to sports clubs or local charities like Apex, Lions or Rotary that can put together interested groups to get in touch so we can run a course for them. The cost is minimal and it’s just for one day, but they could help save many lives.

“But the best and most important rule to remember is – always swim between the red and yellow flag on patrolled beaches. No flags = No swim,” he added.

To find out about patrolled beaches or to get daily beach conditions, go to @chcclifeguards​ on Twitter or

Any local group interested in taking part in an OSSA or OSAA course can call Council’s Lifeguard Service Programmes Coordinator on 0428 285073 for more information.​

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