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Busiest SLSC patrol season to date ends

May 9, 2022 BY

Surf Coast chief lifeguard Grace Lightfoot at her home beach in Jan Juc. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

RED and yellow flags across the region have been brought in as surf life saving clubs say goodbye to the 2021-2022 patrol season.

The 2021-22 patrol season was the busiest Victorian season to date with more than 700 rescues, 140 instances of major first aid and more than 200,000 patrol hours carried out across more than 60 Victorian locations – 18 per cent more rescues than last season.

Surf Coast clubs such as Anglesea, Fairhaven, Jan Juc, Lorne and Torquay formed a portion of the overall effort carrying out 185 rescues across the region.

Anglesea SLSC patrollers Luke Ross-Smith and Hamish Brookes put their rescue-ready skills and knowledge into action rescuing seven people in distress in one major incident.

“There were five lifeguards, two on jet-skis, patrolling the beach during a high tide at Anglesea, when one member noticed someone swimming in a nearby group start waving their arms in the water,” Mr Ross-Smith said.

“Then a second person began to wave, so we immediately responded by entering the water to commence a rescue. By the time we reached the group, there were seven people in distress.

“We were able to bring everyone to shore, one of the patients lost consciousness, however was assessed on the beach by paramedics, and thankfully she recovered.

“It’s days like these where we are grateful to have our training and rescue ready skills to rely on and keep people safe.”

Surf Coast chief lifeguard, Grace Lightfoot, responsible for more than 90 lifeguards spanning from Cosy Corner in Torquay to Apollo Bay, said people need to remain vigilant during the winter months when the flags are down.

“We won’t have lifeguards back on the beach until mid-November this year, which means when people go to the beach, they should head to beachsafe.org.au which can tell them the hazards of those beaches or nearby beaches in that area,” Ms Lightfoot said.

“Otherwise, head to your local pool. There’s going to be lifeguards there all year round and that option will be a lot warmer than the ocean.”
Lorne SLSC produced the most 2021-22 patrol rescues in the region with 99 as of April 21.

Life Saving Victoria noted the 2021-22 lifesaving season was made possible thanks to a $4.5 million investment from the Victorian Government into funding paid lifeguard patrols and state services including helicopter, drone, jet ski and marine search and rescue.