Death sparks call for lifeguards
THE drowning death of a man at Cabarita beach this week has renewed calls for full-time lifeguard service on the Tweed.
Roger McLeod of the Tweed Coast Sea Rescue Squad, who gave evidence at the inquest into the 2007 drowning of James Peter Harris at Kingscliff beach, says an extended lifeguard service on the Tweed - one that would see the main beaches patrolled during the winter months - may have prevented the death.
“You couldn't say that it would have 100 per cent been prevented,” Mr McLeod said. “But if there was a professional presence there, either contracted lifeguards or a council lifeguard service, it is unlikely they would've got into trouble in the first place. They would have been directed to swim in a safe area.”
The Upper Coomera manwas swimming with a male cousin near the surf lifesaving club when both men got into trouble about midday.
One man made it back to shore and ran to get help, while the other was pulled from the water by a witness who began CPR on the beach.
Surf lifesavers and paramedics continued CPR, but the man was pronounced dead about 1pm.
Following last year's inquest, Tweed Shire Council extended lifeguards services to run from September to May, which Mr McLeod called a “step in the right direction”.
“It's great that Tweed Shire Council has improved the lifeguard services, and they should be applauded for that, but there should still be a presence in the main swimming areas, such as north Kingscliff beach and north Cab- arita, and there should be a mobile patrol as well,” Mr McLeod said.
He said new developments at Salt, Casuarina and Pottsville and the proximity to the Gold Coast were reason enough for improved services.
“How can you have the biggest and best full-time lifeguard service in the world - the Gold Coast - operating from Rainbow Bay to Surfers Paradise and then 20 minutes south of the border have no lifeguard service at this time of year?” he said. “It doesn't make sense.”
John Andrews, national secretary of the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association, said a full-time year-round lifeguard service for Tweed beaches was an ongoing campaign.
“It's an issue we talk about every year, and from our point of view it is quite frustrating,” Mr Andrews said. “And unfortunately it is a tragedy for those affected by any drowning.
“There is a lag on the North Coast and I believe it is a lot to do with money; but then we can argue that no, it is about priorities. We need to think how we can have an expansion of services to meet the demand.”