MEDIA RELEASE - Council lifeguards primed for the summer beach season

Sutherland Shire Council’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguards team have officially flagged the start of another summer beach season having completed pre-season training and fine tuning their ocean safety lifeguarding, first-aid, and basic life support skills, ready to support beachgoers that hit the sand this season to safely enjoy their time in the water.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said while the skills and expertise of Council lifeguards were in heavy demand last summer, lifeguards were expecting to face an even busier beach season this year.

“We know that with this summer expected to be hotter and drier than we have seen for a number of years, conditions will be very tempting for locals and visitors to the Sutherland Shire to head to the beach in coming months,” Mayor Pesce said.

“That’s why it’s so important that all those heading to our local beaches over summer keep some important beach safety tips firmly in mind – remember to always swim at patrolled beaches, keep between the red and yellow flags, know` your capabilities and, when there is a ‘beach closed’ sign or you don’t see the flags, stay out of the water.”

“Last season we saw our lifeguards involved in the prevention of 112,215 individual beach safety incidents, performing 1,013 ocean rescues and delivering 4,902 first aid actions across our Council patrolled beaches.

“This is a truly immense workload, so we want to see all those visiting our beaches this year take appropriate care in keeping themselves and their friends and loved ones safe, making common sense decisions to keep out of rip currents and other beach safety hazards.”

Mayor Pesce said Council lifeguards would be further aided in their efforts to keep beachgoers safe this year, with the addition of new technology aimed at further expanding visibility of popular swimming spots around the Bate Bay area.

“Our lifeguards are highly skilled and have access to a host of equipment including jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, drones and a complete coastal safety CCTV network that provides extensive coverage of the Bate Bay area – which will be extended to waters surrounding Shelly Beach and Oak Park this summer,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Emergency Response Beacons are also located at unpatrolled locations including Blackwoods Beach, Greenhills Beach and Potter Point at Kurnell so that with the press of a button, a member of the public can be connected to the Surf Life Saving State Operations Centre and Council lifeguards for a swift emergency response.”

Council lifeguards have also worked extensively over the cooler months to build surf literacy skills with communities known to be particularly at risk in the water. This has seen more than 3,500 students across 81 schools benefit from surf literacy sessions with Council lifeguards, as well as 36 rock fishing patrols conducted prior to this season to reinforce key rock fishing safety messages.

“The Sutherland Shire boasts over five kilometres of beaches which attracted more than 5 million visitors last year. Our lifeguards have been hard at work preparing to keep beachgoers safe by recently completing a comprehensive training program to hone their skills, but also helping to keep communities deemed particularly at risk safe before they even hit the surf,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Our beautiful beaches draw visitors from all over Sydney during the summer season and many are not beach and ocean literate which lead to a greater risk of people getting into trouble in the surf.

“In anticipation of this, our lifeguards have done some incredible work through their involvement in programs like the Swim Brothers beach safety program, as well as information sessions to help young beachgoers readily identify rips, and beach safety sessions held with local school students.”

Mayor Pesce also drew attention to the range of facilities available to support those living with disability or those with mobility impairments to enjoy their time along the coastline, with Council lifeguards set to once again roll out a range of free accessibility services as part of its ‘Beaches for Everybody’ program.

“For many people, gaining access to the sand or ocean can be quite challenging, which is why we are proud to continue to improve beach access for those with limited mobility,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Council lifeguards are ready to assist those with mobility issues to get out and enjoy our beaches, with three different beach wheelchairs and a Mobi Mat on hand which can be rolled out over the top of soft sand to ensure everyone can get the most out of summer.”

Sutherland Shire’s patrolled beach swimming areas are located at Cronulla Beach, North Cronulla Beach, Elouera Beach and Wanda Beach, and are patrolled daily between September to April from 8am to 5pm (6pm Daylight Saving Time). Greenhills beach will also be patrolled daily during school holidays from December to January from 10am to 5pm.

For more information on patrolled beaches and how to book use of a beach wheelchair, visit Ocean Safety Lifeguards.