Volunteer surf lifesavers from across NSW have taken down the red and yellow flags for the last time this season with ANZAC Day the final patrolling day.
The 2011/12 season was another busy one with more than eight million people visiting NSW beaches. Drowning deaths continue to be a major concern with 33 lives lost so far this financial year.
President of Surf Life Saving NSW, Tony Haven, says this figure, which is significantly higher than last year, would be even higher without the vigilance of surf lifesavers.
“Our volunteer surf lifesavers have put in an extraordinary effort this season, they have rescued 7608* people, contributed over 602,518 patrol hours, and carried out 182,269 preventative actions,” said Tony Haven.
“The Surf Rescue Emergency Response System has also saved countless lives at unpatrolled beaches and after-hours. Only days ago we recorded our 1000th callout since the system began operating in 2008.
“We’ve rescued people from rip currents, from rock platforms and upturned boats, all because this system enables the rapid deployment of lifesavers and lifeguards to black-spot locations and after hours, following a call to Police.”
More than 20,500 volunteer surf lifesavers from 129 surf clubs patrolled more than 200 NSW beaches, from Fingal Heads at the mouth of the Tweed River, to Pambula Beach in the state's far south since the start of the season on 24 September, 2011.
Despite the volunteer patrol season ending, there are beaches in NSW which will continue to be patrolled by council lifeguards. Go to www.beachsafe.org.aufor more information on patrol locations and times.
During winter, Surf Life Saving NSW is urging people to be extra cautious when enjoying the coastline. People need to take some personal responsibility for their safety, including educating themselves on how to avoid and escape from rip currents and all children should learn to swim. The coming months are also particularly risky for rock fishermen and anglers are encouraged to take precautions, most importantly by wearing a lifejacket.
“While our volunteers take a well-earned break, our education programs, first aid and CPR courses continue to be run in schools and the community,” said Tony Haven.
Rescues and preventions – Volunteer surf lifesavers performed more than 7600 rescues and 182,000 preventative actions.
Drowning Deaths- The number of coastal drownings across the state is currently at 33. The main cause of drowning continues to be rock fishing and people caught in rip currents, the majority at unpatrolled beaches or after patrol hours.
Beach attendance- The number of people who visited NSW patrolled beaches this season will top 8 million. Peak days included New Years Day and Australia Day, where almost half a million people visited beaches in NSW.
Membership- Surf Life Saving NSW grew as a movement, with total membership numbers rising to almost 75,500. Nippers numbers also experienced a rise of almost 6% to 31,500. Patrolling members rose to just over 20,500.
At a glance - 11/12 season
11/12 Patrol season commenced Saturday September 24, 2011 and ended Wednesday 25 April, 2012
129 surf clubs in NSW
Volunteer surf lifesavers have spent more than 600,000 hours on patrol on NSW beaches this season
Total members increased from almost 73,000 to over 75,500 in NSW
Approximately 60% of members are male and 40% are female
Coastal drowning deaths are 33 so far this financial year
Main causes of drownings remain rock fishing and people caught in rip currents
So far the Surf Rescue Emergency Response System has responded to 271* callouts to coastal incidents this season
The 2012/13 NSW patrol season will commence on Saturday September 22, 2012.
* Figures are expected to be higher however many clubs do not log final statistics until after the season ends.