By Ron Lane
The big swells that came as an aftermath of cyclone Iris definitely caused havoc along our stretch of coastline. Commencing on Thursday of last week and going right through to Sunday afternoon life guards and lifesavers experienced their busiest time for several seasons.
For the lifeguards on duty at Noosas Main Beach Thursday saw some 40 rescues performed and during the day some of these were in mass rescues situations. Friday conditions were again big and lifeguards were once more called on to both assist and rescue swimmers. At days end 66 rescues were recorded.
With such modern equipment as the IRB the Jet Rescue Ski (commonly referred to as the Power Water Craft) and the Rescue Boards now available, our beach patrols are in a position to safeguard bigger crowds than ever before.
Because of this, the necessity to quickly close beaches as in the old days of the reel, line and belt no longer exists. In those days the rescue of just one swimmer would require some four patrolmen working for 15 minutes or more.
Now with the supplement support of the one man Jet Ski, towing a rescue sled (flotation mat) 4 people can be rescued and quickly returned to the beach in a matter of minutes. Because of their mobility and speed this craft can then return back to deeper water and continue surveillance.
Add to this the backup of patrolman on rescue boards (which have hand grips attached along the sides) and the handling of mass rescue situations no longer present the problems of yesteryear.
These figures may seem high, as in the old days of the reel line and belt these sea conditions would have caused the duty patrols to close the beaches, because as with the now outdated rescue equipment being the only thing available, it would have been impossible to cover such crowds and incidents.
However when beaches are declared closed we find the people still incest in swimming; and this is an old age problem with no end in sight. The weekend saw lifesavers also caught up in rescue situations and despite conditions crowds still visited. With only ten minutes before closing of patrols on Main Beach Saturday afternoon lifesavers were called on to perform yet another mass rescue; and once again the team work of the Jet Ski and rescue board worked to perfection.
Reports from Sunshine are that there were no incidents. With Sunshine being an open beach people tend to proceed with utmost caution. However with Noosas Main Beach being protected by First Point and National Park Point this caution tends to disappear.
It is to be hoped that those in Queensland Tourism recognize and acknowledge the important role played by our Lifeguards and Lifesavers. A major selling point for the marketing of Queensland holiday resorts is the fact that our beaches are patrolled by the best and backed up with the state-of-the-art equipment; this is a big plus for families choosing holiday destinations.