Surf rescue tubes that members of the public can use in an emergency are to be rolled out at ten local beaches over the next 12 months in the first stage of a three-year program to install them at 37 locations along our coastline following a successful trial.
Rescue tubes are specially designed flotation devices, normally used by lifeguards or lifesavers to assist in water rescues, that can help support the victim’s and rescuer’s weight to make a rescue easier.
“With most drownings occurring either outside patrolled areas or outside patrol times, it was vital that we looked at all options when looking for ways to prevent more deaths,” said Greg Hackfath, Council’s Lifeguard Services Team Leader. “It’s also an unfortunate fact that ‘bystander’ rescuers can often be among the fatalities in a drowning incident, so providing a flotation device they can easily access is extremely important.”
With the assistance and cooperation of the project partner Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club, Council’s Lifeguards undertook a trial of the tubes at Sawtell Beach over five months that included the 2019-2020 surf season.
“The trial was evaluated through a survey of local and visitor beach-users, a post-trial workshop and face-to-face interviews with key participants and found to have been very successful in terms of developing community confidence,” said Enzo Accadia, Council’s Section Leader Community Programs.
“In the past four years since July 2016, 11 people have drowned at beaches within the Coffs Harbour local government area. While none of these tragedies happened between the flags at a patrolled beach they highlight the need to provide rescue equipment at as many locations as we are feasibly able.”
A list of ten priority beaches has been drawn up to receive rescue tubes over the coming financial year, if funding becomes available. They are Corindi Beach (Darlington/Lorikeet), Emerald Beach, Murrays Beach/Boambee Headland, Fiddamans Beach, Campbells Beach – (North) Riecks Point, Diggers Beach, Moonee Beach North (Shelleys), Red Rock, Woolgoolga Beach, and Moonee Beach South.
The total cost of completing the three-year program is estimated to be $100,000.
“Council has been very generously provided with an initial $20,000 grant for the initial roll-out that was successfully applied for by the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour and they have also indicated that members with businesses may be interested in also sponsoring some rescue tubes,” added Mr Accadia.
“The grant from the Rotary Club is for the Cowper electorate only, but there is strong community and tourist industry interest in this project and we’re hopeful that this will translate into positive external support through further grants, donations and sponsorship for the beaches outside the Cowper boundaries.
“We’re also going to work with the other bodies that manage some of our local beaches to introduce rescue tubes at those places too as part of this same strategy.”