Lifesavers are at the ready
HUNDREDS of volunteer surf lifesavers will return to the beach today when Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) kicks off its 2015/16 volunteer patrol season.
The season launch will see lifesavers from the Wide Bay Capricorn area raise the red and yellow flags across beaches every weekend and on public holidays until May 2016, with lifeguards continuing weekday patrols.
This year, SLSQ will have a number of lifesaving weapons up its sleeve, following the installation of surf safety cameras and emergency response beacons at Elliott River Mouth, Palmers Creek at Innes Park, Mon Repos Creek, and Wild Cattle Creek in Tannum Sands, allowing for round-the-clock surveillance.
The season launch coincides with the release of SLSQ's 2015 Coast Safe Report, which reveals there were two drownings in the Wide Bay Capricorn region last season, including one at Dilli Village on Fraser Island and one on Fishermans Beach at Emu Park.
The report also identifies Elliott River Mouth as a "black-spot" location following a spate of incidents in recent years including a fatality in November 2014.
SLSQ regional operations manager Craig Holden urged swimmers to "put safety first" this summer, reminding beachgoers there had never been a drowning between SLSQ's flags.
"Each season, Queensland's volunteer surf lifesavers dedicate countless hours of their own time to watch over and protect beachgoers and, yet, every year there are still people who venture to unpatrolled locations, putting themselves and others at risk," Mr Holden said.
"When the sun's out and the beaches are busy, it's crucial that people follow the advice of surf lifesavers and lifeguards, and only swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flagged areas. Always remember, if lifesavers can't see you they can't save you."
Mr Holden believes the installation of a beacon and camera at selected locations across the region, including at the Elliott River Mouth, will significantly boost lifesaving patrols this summer.
The beacons will provide an important and instantaneous communication link between the location and surf lifesaving services, and can be used around the clock to directly alert SLSQ is a swimmer is in danger and requires immediate assistance.
The coastal cameras allow lifesavers and lifeguards to monitor water conditions and respond to any incidents in real-time.
As part of the initiative, Bundaberg Regional Council applied for and was successful in obtaining funding from the Federal Government to place the cameras and beacons in the region.
"Council has always supported surf lifesaving within our region and we are putting in a large financial contribution to the organisation with lifeguards and their equipment being funded by Bundaberg Regional Council," Deputy mayor David Batt.