Sunshine Coast Lifeguards notch up one year with Surf Life Saving Queensland
It’s been one year since the Sunshine Coast Lifeguards moved from the Sunshine Coast City Council to Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) and despite initial misgivings by the transitioning lifeguards, all are working well with all encouraged and many taking opportunities to increase their award qualifications.
SLSQ’s Chief Lifeguard, Greg Cahill said he was pleased with the continual professionalism of the Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguards on and off the beach as well as their readiness to upgrade skill levels whenever the opportunity came.
“We have 96 Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguards, 25 are permanent including a northern coast and a southern coast supervisor and a supervisors’ assistant to help both supervisors,” Greg said.
“This Wednesday will see the permanent Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguards go through their annual proficiencies, including the pool swim, beach missions, Bronze Medallion Proficiency/Certificate II – board and tube rescues, Gold Medallion complex rescue scenarios and jetski proficiencies – including rescue techniques and competencies.
“Earlier this year, five of the permanent Sunshine Coast Lifeguards trained to be Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service Crew, which included ocean rescues.
“Then in June, with one of the Lifeguard Supervisors, the Lifeguards were trained to another level as they completed the Silver Medallion Aquatic Rescue (SMAR) course, a prerequisite to gain a Certificate III in Public Safety – a higher qualification than the Gold Medallion. To complete this, they spent two days and one night placed in complex rescue scenarios on North Stradbroke Island, making them some of the most qualified lifeguards in Queensland and Australia.
“Of our 25 permanent Sunshine Coast Lifeguards, all have completed the nationally accredited water craft (jetski) training, 15 have completed national credential units for beach management and one has completed Certificate IV in Training and Education (TAE) with six completing some of the TAE units.
“Now, 23 of the 25 permanent Lifeguards have completed their Silver Medallion Aquatic Rescue (SMAR) course and part of the Certificate III in Public Safety – significantly increasing search and rescue capabilities on the Sunshine Coast beaches.”
Operational support equipment has also been upgraded and new equipment purchased to include:
“On top of all this, Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguard, Jason Smith was awarded ALS Lifeguard of the Year (Queensland) and was a finalist for the national award,” Greg said.
“We are very proud of the hard work and professionalism of the Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguards and in particular the cohesive teamwork they have with SLSQ and ALS Lifeguards across Queensland.”
ALS Lifeguards – a career path from surf lifesaving and beyond
Many of the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) Lifeguards on Queensland’s beaches have strong affiliations with surf life saving clubs, having started as nippers, junior or senior surf lifesavers, honing their skills and love of the water on patrol through the surf life saving movement.
Some have made it a career choice and others are part-time or casual ALS Lifeguards helping to support themselves through further studies or as a lifestyle choice. No matter what their reason for becoming an ALS Lifeguard, all must maintain the highest level of fitness and emergency care skills, a job requirement that is assessed three times a year.
The assessment combined with a rigorous training program is conducted for all staff to ensure the highest standard of competence is maintained and that there is continuous improvement within the ALS.
ALS Lifeguards can also become qualified Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service crew helping to save lives in challenging situations in the surf, ocean and during major floods, such as the recent north Bundaberg mass evacuations and the 2011 south east Queensland floods. Because of their training, many ALS Lifeguards also go onto careers in emergency services, making the ALS a career choice and a career pathway.
The ALS are on patrol all year round from far north Queensland to Stradbroke Island assisting the community stay safe on our beaches and lagoons. During the volunteer patrol season, the ALS Lifeguards and surf lifesavers work together to help keep our beaches safe.