Fingal Head meeting looks at improving safety
POOR mobile phone reception could be addressed alongside other safety issues as part of a multi-agency attempt to prevent further drownings at Fingal Head.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest, Tweed Shire Council's general manager Troy Green and manager for recreation services Stewart Brawley, Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce, police, Crown Lands and a representative from the Angel Ring Project met at the treacherous headland on Friday.
The meeting was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Tomoe Ogisu, who this month became the fourth person to drown at the headland since October 2015.
Mr Pearce said there were plans for flotation devices at the northern and southern corners of the headland.
There are also plans for an emergency beacon - which will likely be located at the Fingal Lighthouse - and a publicly-available defibrillator at Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club.
Mr Pearce said the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Service had been consulted on the plans and were on board with anything that would make the area safer.
Surf Life Saving duty officer David Dempsey said the plans for safety gear at the headland was "fantastic”.
Mr Dempsey said it was frustrating for people to ignore warnings about the treacherous conditions at Dreamtime Beach and on the headland.
"On Australia Day, we had maybe six or seven people (on the patrolled beach),” he said.
"I went over to the south beach and there was probably 300 plus. We need something there because people are going to swim there.”
Malcolm Poole, from the Australian National Sportfishing Association's Angel Ring Project, said it was vital for the community to respect the life saving equipment.
"They're not a man cave trophy,” Mr Poole said.
"It's a piece of public rescue equipment.”
He said the angel rings would be a "silent sentry” but also a warning sign of past tragedies at the headland, but poor mobile phone reception at Fingal should also be addressed so it's easier for people to call for help in an emergency.
Mr Provest said while the emergency beacon would alert emergency services to any incidents, he would look at improving reception.
Surf Life Saving clubs are on patrol until after the Easter school holidays on weekends, including at Fingal Head (northern beach) and Cudgen Headland SLSC at Kingscliff, while lifeguards are on duty Monday to Friday at Kingscliff beach until the end of May.
Swimmers are urged only swim between the flags at patrolled beaches.