Following an extensive review of its services and external drowning data, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) will move forward into its 2016/17 patrol season with increased patrols and enhanced services, but without its Jet Rescue Boat Service.
“As the peak authority on coastal and aquatic safety, we’re constantly reviewing and assessing all of our existing services to ensure that we’re in the best possible position to expand our reach and save lives along Queensland’s coastline,” SLSQ chief operating officer George Hill said.
“Like any other organisation, it’s important that we’re investing our limited resources in the most effective way possible.
“As the Jet Rescue Boat craft is coming to the end of its operational life, and needs replacing with a new craft, now is the time to review efficiencies in terms of where we can offer the best possible integrated surf lifesaving service.
“From next season onwards we’ll be shifting our focus and significantly boosting jet ski patrols on the Gold Coast and we see this as playing a key role in helping us work towards our vision of ‘Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters’,” he said.
Mr Hill said jet skis offered benefits that other equipment couldn’t match.
“They’re fast, mobile, durable and extremely responsive pieces of equipment and this will allow our surf lifesavers to perform rescues and access high-risk blackspots that they simply haven’t been able to in the past,” he said.
“In addition, we’ll be investing funds into boosting a variety of services on the Gold Coast including dawn patrols and dusk patrols, while also placing a night vision camera at Surfers Paradise and continuing to build on our after-hours capabilities.
“We’re also committed to building on our relationship with council lifeguards and other key agencies including the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue to ensure maximum protection for Gold Coast beachgoers.”
SLSQ will begin rolling out additional rescue water craft patrols when its 2016/17 patrol season officially kicks off on Saturday 17 September.
Meanwhile, SLSQ’s volunteer surf lifesavers are currently enjoying a well-earned rest after a busy summer of patrols which saw them perform more than 60,000 preventative actions to safeguard swimmers, treat 1,721 first aid patients and rescue 933 beachgoers.
Council lifeguards are continuing to patrol Gold Coast beaches over the cooler months and Mr Hill urged anyone going for a swim to stick to the flagged areas.
“It’s really important that people are continuing to take care and put safety first when they visit a beach, and the best way to do that is to swim only at patrolled locations between the red and yellow flags,” he said.