Cronulla beach users will be even safer as more surfers are put through their paces with formal rescue and CPR training over the coming months on the NSW coast thanks to new government funding.
Blake Johnston from Cronulla Surfing Academy got the ball rolling at Wanda Beach putting a dozen local surfers through their paces just before Christmas in time for the summer crowds.
Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said Surfing NSW had been awarded $134,000 from the NSW Government’s Water Safety Fund to support the Surfers Rescue 24/7 course.
“Surfers are an untapped resource and with 36 drownings last summer alone it was clear we needed to look at new and creative ways to keep people safe,” Mr Grant said.
“I cannot stress enough for people to assess the conditions, don’t overestimate your abilities and only swim in patrolled areas.”
Mr Grant said Surfing NSW had already trained about 7000 surfers but with the help of this new funding they would be able to put up to 2000 more people through the course.
“We know boardriders are confident and experienced in the ocean, so I’m very proud of the government’s efforts to support Surfing NSW so we can train even more people,” Mr Grant said.
The course comprises of two parts. The first is board rescue where surfers learn techniques to bring someone back to shore, followed by CPR training conducted by Surf Lifesaving NSW.
Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden, a member of Cronulla Boardriders Club who participated in the Wanda rescue course, said he looked forward to continuing to build the course further over the next year through a community of surf schools and boardriders clubs.
“With more than a million surfers in NSW, it is safe to say that boardriders play a vital role in rescues when people get into trouble outside of patrolled areas,” Mr Madden said.
“Since we started the program, over 7000 people have completed the course and we plan to reach even more over the next 12 months through Surfing NSW’s comprehensive network.”
World champion surfer Mick Fanning has also thrown his weight behind Surfing NSW’s program.
“I’m really proud of Surfing NSW and the work they have done to make the Surfers Rescue 24/7 course available,” Fanning said.
“Most of us that have spent our lives in the sea have been involved in helping someone in distress at some point or maybe needed help ourselves. It only takes a few hours and it could help you save a life. It might even be your own."
The program will be rolled out across a number of beaches over summer and into 2019.
Details: Surfing Australia or surfersrescue247.com