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Surf lifesavers sending out an SOS for help

Last summer Queensland’s volunteer surf lifesavers rescued more than 1,120 swimmers in distress, but now the ‘red and yellow army’ is asking for a helping hand of its own when it launches the 2017 SOS Week in October.

During SOS Week (October 23-39), Queenslanders are being urged to ‘Support our Savers’ and recognise the vital work that volunteers perform up and down the coastline every year.

Thousands of surf lifesavers will take to the streets across the week, doorknocking and rattling collection tins to raise crucial funds and awareness for the volunteer movement, with all proceeds going straight back into surf safety initiatives and protecting beachgoers across the state.

For the first time ever, surf lifesavers will also be equipped with a number of ‘tap & go’ facilities, allowing members of the public to make a quick donation via their credit or EFTPOS cards.

SLSQ chief executive officer John Brennan OAM is urging everyone to chip in a dollar or two when they see a surf lifesaver during SOS week.

“Normally our lifesavers are the ones going to the rescue but, this year, we’re sending out an SOS of our own and asking for the public’s help and support,” Mr Brennan said.

“Every year our lifesavers watch over millions of beachgoers and save thousands of lives. This service is offered completely free of charge to the Queensland community, but unfortunately it comes at a significant cost to us.

“A lot of people tend to forget that SLSQ is actually a charity organisation which relies heavily on the generosity of the community to ensure that we can continue to deliver the highest level of beach safety.

“Last summer our volunteers watched over 3.5 million beachgoers and their efforts ensured that every single person returned home safely at the end of the day. If all of these people donated a dollar or two, we’d have enough funds to continue our existing patrols and introduce new safety initiatives right across the state,” he said.

In 2016/17 Queensland’s surf lifesavers volunteered 343,084 hours to patrol beaches and protect swimmers. During this time they performed 76,183 preventative actions, 24,751 first aid treatments and, most importantly, directly saved 1,125 lives in the process.

Away from the red and yellow flags, SLSQ’s surf lifesavers are just as active, educating more than 300,000 people each and every year about beach safety through a variety of educational and community awareness programs.

“To effectively set up a beach patrol, a surf life saving club must be provided with more than $60,000 worth of equipment, including inflatable rescue boats, surf rescue boards, rescue tubes and defibrillators,” Mr Brennan said.

“Along with the cost associated in establishing a beach patrol, it costs $10,000 a year to maintain an active patrol and $850 to train a young lifesaver.

“By donating, the community is effectively ensuring our volunteers have the right tools and training to do their job, which is to save lives.”

Surf lifesavers will be fundraising during SOS Week from October 23-29. Donations can be made online at sosweek.com.au.

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