The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been busy during the 2010/11 surf life saving season.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been busy during the 2010/11 surf life saving season.

Busy patrol season on North Coast

VOLUNTEER surf lifesavers from across the state were busily taking down the red and yellow flags for the last time when the New South Wales patrol season officially ended yesterday.

The 2010/11 season was another busy one, with more than seven million people visiting New South Wales beaches. Drowning deaths continue to be a major concern, with 14 lives lost in the state since July last year.

Surf Life Saving NSW president Tony Haven said this figure, which was down from the previous year, could be due to the slow start to the summer season, which kept many beachgoers out of the water. It might also be an indicator that some of the surf awareness campaigns are having some impact.

“Our volunteer surf lifesavers have put in an extraordinary effort this season,” Haven said.

“The Surf Rescue Emergency Response System in particular has saved countless lives at unpatrolled beaches and after hours.”

Despite the volunteer patrol season ending, there are beaches in New South Wales that will continue to be patrolled by council lifeguards. Go to www.beachsafe.org.au for more information.

During winter, Surf Life Saving NSW is urging people to be cautious when enjoying the coastline.

People need to take personal responsibility for their safety, including educating themselves on how to avoid and escape from rip currents. All children should learn to swim.

The coming months are also particularly risky for rock fishermen and anglers are encouraged to take precautions, most importantly by wearing a lifejacket.

Volunteer surf lifesavers performed about 6750 rescues and more than 148,358 preventative actions during the season. More than 28,859 cases of first aid were administered.

Drowning Deaths

The number of coastal drownings across the State is at 14. The main cause of drowning continues to be people caught in rip currents, the majority at unpatrolled beaches or after patrol hours.

Beach attendance

The number of people who visited New South Wales patrolled beaches this season will top seven million. Peak days included New Year's Day and Australia Day, where more than half a million people visited beaches.

Surf Life Saving NSW grew as a movement, with total membership numbers rising to almost 74,000. Nipper numbers also experienced a rise of almost 4% to 29,653. Patrolling members rose to just over 18,000.

2010/11 season at a glance

Patrol season started Saturday, September 25, 2010 and ended Tuesday, April 26, 2011

129 surf clubs in New South Wales

Volunteer surf lifesavers have spent more than 500,000 hours on patrol on New South Wales beaches this season

Total members increased from almost 70,000 to almost 74,000 in New South Wales

60% of members are male and 40% are female

Coastal drowning deaths are 14 so far this season, 12 due to rip currents, 1 for rock fishing, 1 for boating

Main cause of drownings remains people caught in rip currents

So far the Surf Rescue Emergency Response System has responded to 160* callouts to coastal incidents

The 2011/12 NSW patrol season will start on Saturday, September 24, 2011.



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