After eight months and more than 300,000 hours on patrol, Queensland’s volunteer surf lifesavers from Forrest Beach down to Rainbow Bay will raise the red and yellow flags one final time this weekend as the 2014/15 patrol season officially comes to a close on Sunday 26 April.
The red and yellow army of volunteer surf lifesavers has been keeping Queensland beaches safe on weekends and public holidays since 20 September 2014, and will now take a well-earned rest before the 2015/16 patrol season commences later this year.
From September last year through to the end of March, Queensland’s volunteer surf lifesavers spent 323,138 hours on patrol, performing 5,388 first aid treatments, 92,672 preventative actions and, most importantly, directly saving 1,515 lives through in-water rescues.
Beaches patrolled in far north Queensland, from Mission Beach to Port Douglas, will continue their patrols during the cooler months.
Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) chief operating officer George Hill said it had been another successful season.
“Our lifesavers have done a tremendous job this summer, in sometimes challenging and difficult conditions, so full credit and thanks goes to each and every individual who strapped on the red and yellow cap and lined up to patrol a beach this season,” he said.
“It can sometimes be easy to forget that these men, women and children are all volunteers who give up their own time to help watch over and protect swimmers on our beaches.
“Their efforts have been nothing short of remarkable with more than 1,500 lives saved since September alone. Importantly, that’s 1,500 people who were able to go home to their loved ones and live another day thanks to the training, dedication and quick thinking of our volunteers,” he said.
While the state’s surf lifesavers will be taking a well-earned rest, professional lifeguard services will continue to operate at Queensland’s more popular beaches across the winter months.
Mr Hill urged anyone heading to the beach during winter to check with their local service before entering the water, and continue to adopt a ‘safety first’ approach to swimming.
“Obviously there will be less people in the surf throughout autumn and winter, but it’s important that people still make the effort to swim only at patrolled beaches,” he said.
“With the patrol season coming to an end, beachgoers will start to notice a drop in the number of flagged areas and they may need to walk a little longer to find a patrolled spot.”
SLSQ will remain active across the winter months, with 24/7 emergency response groups now active and operating in most regions across the state while, on the Gold Coast, lifesavers will continue to perform roving dawn patrols each day of the year.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will also continue to operate in South East Queensland during the cooler months, with crews remaining on-call around the clock to assist with emergency search and rescue operations.