On the latest episode of Surf Studio we chat to Marley Fairclough from West Beach SLSC in South Australia to learn about the importance of community education in remote communities and to hear about her amazing rescue that earned her “Rescue of the Year” in SA.
Originally from Penong in South Australia, Marley has been a volunteer surf lifesaver since 2015 and she also teaches rural kids how to stay safe in the surf and ocean through VACSWIM, a government supported community education program that is run at the beach, pools and lakes around the state.
Marley recently received SLS SA Rescue of the Year award for a rescue she performed in her hometown while teaching a VACSWIM beach safety lesson at the remote Point Sinclair.
She talks us through her incredible experience instructing the program and having to quickly think on her feet when alerted to a participant from an earlier session motionless in the water near the local jetty.
“All of a sudden I heard this screaming and I automatically knew that this wasn’t just some everyday yelling out or screaming for joy. It was distress,” says Marley.
However, this significant rescue was met with increased difficulty due to the remoteness of the rural community. “We don’t live near a hospital; we don’t live near a close ambulance. Our nearest hospital is over 100 km away at the nearest town, Ceduna,” Marley emphasises.
“In our community we’re so aware of how far away everything is, this was not the first situation and I know that it won’t be the last,” said Marley of her award winning rescue. “Things happen so quickly, and everybody knows that they need to be aware of how to deal with those situations because there might not be help for hours.
“I had been teaching these kids not just for the last week but every year as long as I had been, and every year they go to me ‘Miss, why do we have to do this manikin, why are we doing CPR, when are we ever going to use that and why are we doing a rescue?’
“I do think about it sometimes, about how valuable it was for those kids to really see what can happen, and they did, it was this immediate response that they knew how lucky they were that it didn’t end tragically like it could’ve in a different scenario.”
As a VACSWIM instructor, Marley strongly believes in the importance of these types of community education programs and providing water safety knowledge to communities in small towns and rural areas.
The program also extends to regional Aboriginal communities and if it wasn’t for VACSWIM “those kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to have surf awareness and water safety knowledge,” she said.
To find out more about Marley’s heroic rescue story and why water safety community programs in regional areas are so vital, make sure to tune into episode eleven of Surf Studio on the SLSA website and SLSA Facebook page.