Surfers Paradise will have unprecedented lifesaving coverage over the coming weeks, with Surf Life Saving Queensland kicking off a dusk patrol service at peak times during the Christmas period.
From this week through to late-January, surf lifesavers will be stationed at Surfers Paradise on weekends and peak public holidays from 6:30pm, when the flags go down, through to 10:30pm.
The new service represents a significant extension on dusk trials last year, which saw lifesavers remain on-site at Surfers Paradise until 7pm, and comes just weeks after the organisation launched night-vision camera technology at the tourist hotspot.
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Coupled with SLSQ’s dawn patrols, which kick off at 4:30am each day, the new service will ensure the Gold Coast’s most popular beach is monitored for at least 18 hours a day during weekends and peak public holidays.
While not a patrol in the traditional sense, the lifesavers on-site will seek to engage with beachgoers, proactively warn them about the dangers of entering the water at night, and discourage them from swimming after official patrols have wrapped up for the day.
Despite the increased measures, Gold Coast lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife stressed it wasn’t an excuse to go swimming after dusk.
“This service has been specifically put in place to keep people out of the water at night, not encourage them to go for a swim after hours,” Mr Fife said.
“In the past week, lifesavers and lifeguards at Surfers Paradise have extended their patrol hours from 7:00am through to 6:30pm, which gives people plenty of time to go swimming during the day or after work.
“At 6:30pm, when the lifesavers or lifeguards on duty take down the red and yellow flags, Surfers Paradise will no longer be an actively-patrolled beach and, in the interest of safety, we strongly urge all swimmers to exit the water.
“While not a traditional patrol, we’re hoping this additional service at Surfers Paradise will help us save lives by proactively preventing would-be swimmers from putting their lives on the line by entering an unpatrolled and dangerous stretch of beach at night,” he said.
The announcement continues SLSQ’s commitment to improve coastal safety at Surfers Paradise, following eight drownings in the past ten years, all of which occurred at night or outside of patrol hours.
Earlier this year, the beach was listed in SLSQ’s Coast Safe Report as one of six ‘high risk’ coastal blackspots across Queensland.
“It’s incredibly dangerous to enter the water at night and anyone who does so is not only risking their life, they’re also putting lifesavers and lifeguards at extreme risk as well,” Mr Fife said.
“Tragically, we’ve seen people lose their lives in the past after ignoring warnings and entering the water after dark.
“You might feel bulletproof in the heat of the moment, but always remember that one rash decision could have long-lasting, or even fatal, consequences,” he said.
Meanwhile, SLSQ’s 24/7 emergency response teams will also remain on call around-the-clock, and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will be increasing the number of aerial patrols over the Christmas period.