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Surf lifesavers return to the beach for 2014/15 patrol season

More than 8,000 volunteer surf lifesavers across Queensland will return to the state’s beaches this Saturday (20 September) when Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) kicks off its 2014/15 patrol season.

The season launch will see surf lifesavers from Forrest Beach right down to Rainbow Bay raise the red and yellow flags on Queensland beaches every weekend and public holiday until April 2015.

SLSQ chief operating officer George Hill is expecting huge crowds on local beaches this summer and, with that in mind, he urged swimmers to “put safety first” when venturing into the ocean.

“The summer months are obviously a great time to head down to the beach with family and friends, but it’s important that people don’t lose sight of their own personal safety in the process,” Mr Hill said.

“When the sun’s out and the beaches are busy, it’s really important that people follow the advice of lifesavers and lifeguards, and only swim at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags.

“Just one silly mistake, or a moment of madness, can have tragic and long-term consequences, not just for the individuals involved but also their family and friends as well.

“This summer we’re really encouraging beachgoers look out for their family and friends as well, so everyone remembers their time at the beach for all the right reasons. Always remember, if we can’t see you we can’t save you,” he said.

Last year proved to be a busy year for Queensland’s surf lifesavers, who volunteered more than 350,000 hours to patrol beaches and protect swimmers along the state’s coastline. During this time they performed 118,786 preventative actions, 3,373 first aid treatments and, most importantly, saved some 2,137 lives in the process.

Despite these efforts there were still seven preventable beach-related drownings in Queensland, and SLSQ believes this is seven too many.

“As far as we’re concerned, even one drowning is one too many,” he said.

“As an organisation, our overarching goal is to achieve ‘zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters’ and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to strive towards.”

SLSQ’s Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service will once again be conducting aerial patrols on the Gold Coast, South and North Stradbroke Islands, Amity Point, Moreton Island, Bribie Island and the Sunshine Coast.

In addition, SLSQ operations support will also be out in force across the summer months, supporting patrols with a variety of services including rescue water craft and jet rescue boats for in-water patrolling, increased surveillance via the CoastalCOMS camera network, and a dawn patrol service on the Gold Coast which operates 365 days of the year.

Note: Far North Queensland patrols will continue until late November, after recommencing in March this year, due to the marine stinger season.

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