SLSA talks training with Kurrawa SLSC’s Harvie ‘Harv’ Allison
The Surf Life Saving movement has been keeping Australian beaches safe for over 110 years this year.
In addition to delivering over 1.3 million hours of volunteer patrol work on the beach, our services stretch far beyond the sand as a peak water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority.
We had a chat with SLS photographer, and Kurrawa Club trainer extraordinaire Harvie ‘Harv’ Allison to discuss all things first aid and training.
Harv and fellow SLS member Steve Leahy were the first lifesavers in the world to use a defibrillator to save a life.
It was 1997, and the location was Noosa Beach. A man had just been rescued from the surf by the on-duty lifeguard and he wasn’t breathing.
SLSA medical advisor at the time, Dr Peter Fenner was on the beach with Harv and Steve. As luck would have it, the trio were scheduled to shoot images for the upcoming defibrillator section in the SLSA training manual when the rescue unfolded.
Acting quickly, Harv and Steve used their rescue training skills to assist the local lifeguard, positioning the man on the sand and commencing CPR.
It was all hands-on deck, as all three surf lifesavers played a vital role in the resuscitation effort.
Dr Fenner assisted with breathing, while Harvie attended to the Oxy Viva resuscitator (and his cameras) and Steve took charge of the defibrillator.
Harvie tells us to this day he looks back on this as one of his proudest rescues in over four decades with Surf Life Saving.
“We shocked him 3 times to get him going, then the helicopter arrived and the doctors left us in charge as we were doing a great job,” He said.
“The patient was sitting up in hospital next day taking visitors, turns out he was an old lifesaver from Victoria which made the result even better.”
Harv is now the Assisting Chief Training Officer at Kurrawa SLSC. Along with his Chief Training Officer, Lisa Maddison, they have already each conducted over 100 hours of instruction this season, ensuring that our amazing surf lifesavers are always ready to respond to any situation.
Harv said first aid practises and training have evolved since that fateful day in 1997.
“SLSA is constantly updating and revising all aspects of lifesaving to ensure the best possible protection for our beach visitors” He said.
“All lifesavers must undertake a skills maintenance update and test every year to maintain their awards currency.
“This enables our trainers and assessors to update our patrolling members on the latest techniques, whether that be resuscitation, spinal, or any other improvements.” He continued.
For Harv, it’s about ensuring the next generation of Surf Lifesavers have the latest skills and knowledge to continue to keep beachgoers safe.
“All of our trainers and assessors are volunteers, and put many hours into keeping our family of lifesavers current in best practices as well as training the next generation of lifesavers ensuring the public will remain safe on patrolled beaches”
Surf Life Saving operates as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in each State or Territory and each RTO is regulated by either the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) or the relevant State regulatory body for vocational education and training.
In the past year, SLSA qualified 7,000 new Bronze Medallion holders, who contributed to the more than 13,000 rescues and over 57,000 first aid treatments performed last season.
Contact your local club to find out more: https://sls.com.au/join/