Surf Emergencies Put Pressure on Lifesavers

The first three days of the Easter long weekend have seen surf lifesavers respond to a large number of incidents and emergencies across NSW, including two coastal deaths.

The most significant of these was a 40-year old man who was unable to be revived after falling off his surfboard at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle on Sunday. Earlier the same day a man was rescued from an aluminium boat off the coast of Gerringong suffering from a heart attack. He too was unable to be revived.

A rock fisherman rescued from waters off Caves Beach at Spoon Rock Bay remains in a critical condition after he was winched from the water by rescue helicopter and another man was retrieved using an Inflatable Rescue Boat on Friday.

“There have unfortunately been several sad incidents already this Easter and our thoughts are with the families of those involved and also to the lifesavers who have responded so professionally,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce.

Sadly on average, there are at least two coastal drowning deaths over Easter and emergencies are between three and five times more likely to occur on NSW beaches and waterways. So far this weekend, the Surf Emergency Response System has received nine callouts to assist.

Fortunately, many successful rescues and emergency responses by volunteer lifesavers and callout teams have resulted in lives saved and protected water users and holiday-makers over the notoriously dangerous Easter period. Volunteers have performed over 230 rescues over the last three days. Ambulances have been called to attend 23 coastal incidents.

On Friday a rock fisher was rescued at Stanwell Park in the Illawarra and on Saturday Surf Life Saving was asked to assist Police search for a possible missing spearfisher after gear was found floating off the coast of Lobster Island in the Shoalhaven. Search and rescue efforts included a helicopter and rescue boats from Nowra-Culburra and Sussex Inlet SLSCs.

At the notorious rock caves at Frazer Park on the Central Coast, yet another person was rescued by lifeguards and lifesavers after becoming trapped inside the caves.

Surf conditions have been challenging, with some beaches closed at times due to hazardous surf. Several shark sightings have also closed beaches for short periods while dangers are assessed.

Today the Surf Life Saving community has been rocked by news of the deaths of two volunteers from Victoria’s Port Campbell SLSC who were attempting to rescue someone when their boat overturned.

“This tragedy will hit our fellow lifesavers in Victoria hard and brings home the reality of the danger our volunteers can find themselves in,” said Steve Pearce.

“The thought that attempting a brave and selfless act of trying to save someone can result in such tragedy is heartbreaking and I commend all our volunteers, every time they head out on patrol or respond to an emergency callout.”

Ongoing warm weather will see crowds continue to flock to beaches and people are urged to exercise caution and follow the instructions given by surf lifesavers on patrol.

Beach Safety Tips

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website
  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police
  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.