Yamba needs more lifesavers
A YAMBA lifeguard believes inadequate surf lifesaving services could jeopardise the Valley’s tourist trade, calling for funding to be expanded to meet the growing demands on our beaches.
An estimated 1200 people flocked to Yamba’s Main Beach on at least two days this week and more than 1000 each day for the rest of the week, making it the beach’s busiest of the season.
Yamba Surf Life Saving Club captain of three years and former council lifeguard Steve Herbert said lifeguards were being placed in unrealistic situations and that there needed to be a minimum of two lifeguards at all patrolled beaches if equipment such as defibrillators were to be used effectively.
“I am speaking out of concern for the public and for the lifeguards who are placed in life-and-death situations,” the lifeguard veteran of 33 years said.
He said that although people are advised to swim between the flags, the lifeguard services extended to ‘cardiac arrest, cuts and broken ankles’ that could take lifeguards away from their primary patrol areas.
“You do whatever is needed,” Mr Herbert said
Australian Lifeguard Services, in its three-year tender application to Clarence Valley Council which was awarded in August last year, instigated the change from two lifeguard supervisors to one and from three relief lifeguards to one.
However, State manager for Australian Lifeguard Services, Stephen Leahy, said the service was continuing to operate at the same level of efficiency.
In a 2008 Coastal Risk Assessment Plan undertaken by council, the major recommendation was the provision of two lifeguards at all beaches previously serviced – a move that would in effect double the service cost. The only way council could meet this cost would be to reduce the number of beaches that were patrolled.
A Clarence Valley Council spokesman said lifeguard services had been extended by 63 days to accommodate Queensland holidays.
Mr Leahy said: “We work with council to ensure that they get the best service with their budget constraints. The level of service provision that is provided by a council can always be improved upon, but it is up to what ratepayers are prepared to pay,” he said.