Full-time lifesaving patrols rejected

LIFESAVERS reject suggestions that Fingal Beach needs full-time patrolling, despite a drowning there earlier this month.

On February 8, a man, believed to be middle-aged and from Queensland, drowned at the northern end of the beach.

Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said the man was swimming in a very dangerous area and the incident occurred even with lifesavers patrolling two-and-a-half kilometres away.

“Fingal Beach is patrolled on weekends, public holidays and all school holiday periods except winter,” he said.

Mr Leahy said this was adequate and he did not believe full-time lifeguards were required.

President of Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club Andrew Chubb agreed and said employing full-time lifeguards at Fingal may not be the best use of resources.

“We look at it as a beach for the locals,” Mr Chubb said.

“Sometimes there are not many people here.”

Patrol captain on February 8 Brian Lewis said as well as having the flags set up, the lifesavers conducted roving patrols all day.

“We actually went down to that wall two or three times during that day,” he said.

In his 10 years as a volunteer lifesaver Mr Lewis has had a number of rescues, but this was his first resuscitation.

“We jumped into action, it's what we're trained to do.”

When they arrived, other beachgoers were performing CPR on the unconscious man.

“Our training just took over and basically we did what we had to do.”

Mr Lewis continued to work on the man, who had no signs of life, for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived.

“With our environment, water, unless you get there immediately the chances of survival diminish rapidly.

“My understanding was that he had been in the water 10 minutes.

“We do everything on the basis that there's still a chance.”

Mr Lewis believed alcohol was involved but this is unconfirmed.

He hoped the incident would push people to be more water wise.

“People have got to respect the ocean. The safest area to swim is where it's being patrolled.

“Surf Life Saving doesn't have the resources or man power to patrol all the beaches all the time.”

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