BUSY SUMMER: Northern NSW life guard co-ordinator Scott McCartney at Main Beach, Byron Bay. Lifeguards are warning people to be safe at the beach ahead of the upcoming king tide.
BUSY SUMMER: Northern NSW life guard co-ordinator Scott McCartney at Main Beach, Byron Bay. Lifeguards are warning people to be safe at the beach ahead of the upcoming king tide. Patrick Gorbunovs

Surf lifesavers stretched to the max by tides

SURF lifesavers are urging Northern Rivers beach goers to take care in the water this weekend after a spate of near drownings and suspected spinal injuries stretched emergency services to their limit.

Far North Coast surf lifesaving duty officer Jimmy Keough said the upcoming king tide was creating unstable beach conditions with large amounts of water movement on incoming and outgoing tides.

"We're just asking people to take care on the change of tides because that's when we're receiving these jobs," he said.

"It was a very busy day (on New Year's Day) and we're expecting the next couple of days leading into the weekend will be busy as well."

Experienced lifesavers across the state are reporting that New Year's Day was one of the busiest in memory, with one confirmed drowning on the Central Coast.

On Northern Rivers beaches, rescues began with a 15-year old girl being pulled from the surf at Evans Head and placed on oxygen about 9.15am.

Shortly after, three people were caught in a rip at Tallow Beach. The trio managed to get out of the water, however one male needed to be put on oxygen.

At noon, ambulance paramedics responded to a suspected spinal injury on Main Beach in Byron Bay.

The male teenager was transported to Byron District Hospital.

At 3.45pm, emergency services were called to Tallow Beach again for reports of four swimmers in distress.

Nearby surfers helped the swimmers back to shore where they were assessed by ambulance officers.

One female swimmer was taken to Byron District Hospital.

Less than an hour later, surf lifesavers were called to reports of a 25-year-old man being unconscious on Main Beach Byron Bay.

He was given oxygen and transported to hospital.

At the same time, a 45-year-old man collapsed head first into a sandbar at Lennox Head. He was taken to Lismore Base Hospital for possible spinal injuries.

More than 40 separate incidents were responded to by surf lifesavers across the state.

For patrolled beaches go to http://www.beachsafe.org.au.



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