PAYING THEIR RESPECTS: Jessie Rodgers and Ethan Harvey with a wreath that was placed in the sea at Nielson Park Beach yesterday.
PAYING THEIR RESPECTS: Jessie Rodgers and Ethan Harvey with a wreath that was placed in the sea at Nielson Park Beach yesterday. Mike Knott BUN060518WREATH3

Local lifesaving volunteers save 23 lives since September

THE actions of the those who keep our beaches safe were honoured at a memorial service yesterday.

Surf lifesavers have been raising the red and yellow flags every weekend and public holiday since September, and will now take a well-earned rest over the winter months before the next season kicks off towards the end of this year.

During this time, volunteers from across the Wide Bay Capricorn region have watched over more than 118,300 beachgoers and combined to perform 7897 preventative actions to help proactively protect swimmers in and around the water.

In addition, volunteers treated 553 first aid patients and, most importantly, directly saved the lives of 23 beachgoers through in-water rescues.

SLSQ regional operations manager Craig Holden said local lifesavers had performed a wonderful job over the season.

"Our volunteer surf lifesavers have performed an outstanding job this season, and there's no doubt they've earned a chance to put their feet up and relax over the next few months,” he said.

"A lot of people don't realise how much work it takes to protect our beaches - it's not just patrols any more, there's a lot of training, fundraising, operations, and club activities that go on behind the scenes to make sure our volunteers are ready and able to perform their roles.”

To mark the final weekend of patrols, surf lifesavers gathered at Bundaberg SLSC for a special memorial day service to pay their respects to those who have lost their lives in the ocean this season and those from within the surf family who have passed, including Bundaberg's Gemma Henricksen, who lost her battle with cancer last month.

The ceremony saw surf lifesavers in full patrol uniform lay a red and yellow wreath of flowers as a mark of respect.

There have been five drownings on Queensland beaches this season: three on the Sunshine Coast, one at Herron Island, and one at Emu Park.

All drownings occurred at either unpatrolled locations or outside patrol times and Mr Holden said it was a reminder to put safety first.

"Unfortunately, we've seen five people drown on Queensland beaches across the season and, as far as we're concerned, that's obviously five too many,” he said.

"It's a heartbreaking reminder about the need to respect the ocean at all times and swim only at patrolled locations and during designated patrol times,

With the volunteer season coming to a close, beaches across the Wide Bay Capricorn region will continue to be patrolled by SLSQ's professional lifeguards.

Meanwhile, SLSQ will remain active across the winter months through its 24/7 emergency response groups, which are now active in all regions across the state.

BY THE NUMBERS

First aid treatments

Wide Bay Capricorn: 553

Queensland-wide: 10,839

Preventative actions

Wide Bay Capricorn: 7897

Queensland-wide: 65,924

Beach attendance

Wide Bay Capricorn: 119,165

Queensland-wide: 3,015,744

Rescues

Wide Bay Capricorn: 23

Queensland-wide: 863



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