Gold Coast volunteer surf lifesavers will pay special tribute to their late colleagues today, ahead of the end to their 2016-17 patrol season.
A memorial is being held at Coolangatta SLSC this morning to pay respects to Life Savers who have passed away in the last 12-months, as well as those who have drowned.
Local crews are coming off a huge beach season, that began last September and saw more than one million people flock to our beaches but not one drowning.
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“It’s almost unheard of to make it through an entire patrol season without a drowning on Gold Coast beaches,” SLSQ lifesaving services coordinator Nathan Fife said.
“It’s a testament to the outstanding efforts of our patrolling members along with council lifeguards,” Mr Fife added.
There have been 584 rescues in the past eight months, with an astonishing 426 of these occurring outside of the red and yellow flags.
“We had a number of extremely close calls on the Gold Coast involving swimmers outside of the flags and, in many cases, it was only through the quick thinking of lifesavers that we were able to avoid a tragedy.
“Like everyone else, our lifesavers and lifeguards want to go home safely to their families at the end of the day, but they put themselves at great risk every time they have to venture outside of the flagged areas to assist someone,” he said.
The crews also treated thousands of injured beachgoers, with more than nine thousand of them needed attention for bluebottle stings.
They will patrol local beaches one last time this long weekend, before packing away the red and yellow flags at 5pm on Monday for a well-earned rest over the winter months.
“Our volunteer surf lifesavers have performed an outstanding job over the past eight months and they deserve a chance to put their feet up and relax before the 2017/18 season kicks off in September.
“Most people don’t realise the amount of work our volunteers do behind the scenes – it’s not only patrolling beaches these days, there’s also extensive training, fundraising, and around-the-clock emergency management.”
Council life guards will continue patrols across winter, but not all beaches will be open.