Summer’s casualties included five people who died trying to rescue loved ones from unpatrolled beaches. None wore flotation devices, said Shane Daw, general manager coastal safety, Surf Life Saving Australia.
Daw urged anyone attempting a rescue to take a moment to call for help and grab a flotation device or something buoyant before jumping in. “Those few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.”
Only 21 per cent of NSW’s 721 beaches, covering nearly 2000km of coastline, are patrolled. Because of their remoteness, about a quarter of deaths have occurred in national parks, leading to calls for more lifeguards on these common beaches.
Brander said it was “unrealistic” to hope people would stop swimming at unpatrolled beaches, even if there was a patrolled beach as close as Coledale, just a kilometer from Sharky.
“In a perfect world everyone goes to a patrolled beach, but if you think of the south coast of NSW, which doesn’t have a lot of surf clubs and patrolled beaches, you won’t get thousands of people driving 20 minutes to get around the narrow area between.” to find and swim in the flags.”
Surfing NSW estimates that around 63 per cent of NSW’s one million surfers have saved a life. Its education and programs manager Adam Seminara said 96 per cent of the NSW coast is unsupervised, with surfers essentially becoming lifeguards after hours.
That year, 3,000 surfers had gone through the Surfers Rescue 24/7 program, which taught surfers how to rescue someone on an unpatrolled beach without risking their own lives.
At Sharky’s, an unofficial rescue club of locals would often grab a board to rescue beachgoers who couldn’t swim or spot a crack.
Local Stephen Laws said he averaged one rescue a year. “It wasn’t necessarily people who were drowning at the time, but if someone hadn’t saved them, they might have. There’s always a crack. And so many people don’t know it’s there. We are not “on duty” all the time. It is the luck of the draw.”
Another local, John Angels, said: “I’ve lost count of the people I’ve saved. But you can’t save anyone if you don’t have a flotation device,” he said. “It’s a beautiful beach but it can be dangerous.”
Similarly, at Frazer Park Beach, a dangerous beach with a permanent rift in a national park on NSW’s Central Coast, there have been at least 14 fatal drownings in the past 20 years.
Lifelong surfer Mark Radford couldn’t count the number of people he’s pulled from the powerful rift in front of Frazer.
His 29-year-old son Josh Radford successfully rescued two teenagers from the same rift that killed a couple 10 days ago. Three days after Josh rescued the teenagers, Matthew Mulhall attempted to rescue his wife, Kathryn Singleton, who was caught in a crack. The couple died, leaving three children.
“It really shook me,” Josh said, realizing how easily things can go wrong. “You risk your life to save another. It doesn’t have to be.”
For information on each beach’s safety and surfing requirements, visit beachsafe.org.au
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/horror-summer-for-drownings-leaves-experts-frustrated-20230217-p5clgl.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw The horror summer leaves experts frustrated