VOLUNTEER lifesavers will make a return to Gold Coast beaches this weekend, with the 2014/15 patrol season starting on Saturday.
Local surf lifesavers will raise the red and yellow flags from Southport down to Rainbow Bay every weekend and public holiday until April 2015.
Last year proved to be a busy season for Gold Coast lifesavers, who performed 52,354 preventative actions, 876 first aid treatments and saved 861 lives in the process.
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There was also one preventable drowning at Main Beach last year, which was down considerably when compared to five recorded across the previous season.
Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife said while it was great to see a downward trend, even one drowning is one too many.
“Our goal as an organisation is to achieve ‘zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters’ and that’s exactly what we’ll continue striving towards,” he said.
Mr Fife said huge crowds of beachgoers are expected this summer and, with that in mind, he urged swimmers to “put safety first” when venturing into the ocean.
“The summer months are obviously a great time to head down to the beach with family and friends, but it’s important that people don’t lose sight of their own personal safety in the process,” Mr Fife said.
“When the sun’s out and the beaches are busy, it’s really important that people follow the advice of lifesavers and lifeguards, and only swim at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags.
“Just one silly mistake, or a moment of madness, can have tragic and long-term consequences, not just for the individuals involved but also their family and friends as well.
“This summer we’re really encouraging beachgoers look out for their family and friends as well, so everyone remembers their time at the beach for all the right reasons. Always remember, if we can’t see you we can’t save you,” he said.
SLSQ operations support will also be out in force across South East Queensland throughout the summer months, supporting patrols with a variety of services including the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, increased beach surveillance via the CoastalCOMS camera network, rescue water crafts and jet rescue boats for in-water patrolling, and a dawn patrol service 365 days of the year.