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Winter Lifesavers So Near, Yet So Far

By Duncan Horscroft on September 6, 2012 in News

Photo: Chelsey

With the red and yellow flags due to be hoisted again this month for the start of a new beach season, the issue of having a full-time lifeguard on duty at Bronte Beach during the winter months is still causing concern following a few incidents during the off-season.

On one occasion a surfer came unstuck on a wave and suffered a badly broken nose and a black eye and had to be attended to by a staff member from the Bronte Kiosk.

Fortunately for the surfer, Mitch Blencowe, the woman who rendered assistance prior to calling the emergency services was Karen Quinlan, mother of Bondi Rescue regular Troy, and she had enough basic knowledge to make Mitch comfortable and stem the bleeding until an ambulance arrived.

“I fell face first on to my board and broke my nose and suffered a black eye,” Blencowe said.

“I paddled in and ran up the beach assuming there was a lifeguard on duty because there were so many people around. But after banging on the door and yelling for a few minutes Karen came over and told me there was no one there.

“It never occurred to me there would be no lifeguard on the beach during winter.”

The question is also being raised as to why there are people working in the Bronte Surf Lifesaving Club office during weekdays in winter who don’t have any qualifications to render assistance in an emergency, except for ringing 000.

Bronte Surf Club vice president David Fleeting agreed that an employee trained in basic first aid and surf lifesaving would be useful for these isolated incidents, but stressed that they were not obliged to have any first aid knowledge.

“There is no requirement for these people to have any sort of accreditation in surf lifesaving as they are only there simply to perform an administrative role.

“It would be a happy coincidence – not a requirement – if we had someone working there who was trained. But we do not have any obligation to providing first aid or lifesaving assistance during the winter or, for that matter, anytime other than weekends and public holidays during the regular surf patrol season.”

He did say the club was looking into to finding a way of making the surf club and its emergency equipment available to trained personnel during the off-season if needed.

But, for the moment, it’s unfortunate that tourists and those unfamiliar with the operations of a surf club tend to associate the building with a life saving facility all year round and would be at a loss to understand why, if an emergency arose during the day, no one could assist them.

Let’s hope we don’t have to go through another winter of discontent with the possibility of a life-threatening incident occurring with so much valuable lifesaving and first aid equipment so near yet so far away from the knowledge of how to use it.