Beach rescues up on last season

Surf lifeguards (from left) Cam Third, of St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club, Otago-Southland club...
Surf lifeguards (from left) Cam Third, of St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club, Otago-Southland club development officer Felix Cook, and Matt Bradley, of St Clair Surf Life Saving Club, collect the flags and rescue tube to mark the end of the patrol season. During the 2020-2021 season, there were 42 rescues, more than double than in the previous season. Photo: Jessica Wilson
After nearly 4400 hours patrolling Dunedin’s beaches, lifeguards are putting the flags away.

The city’s beach patrols ended late last month.

During the 2020-2021 season, there were 42 rescues and 41 assists.

An assist is when a person requires assistance to return to shore but would most likely be able to get themselves out of danger.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand Otago-Southland club development officer Felix Cook said nearly a quarter of the season’s rescues — 9 — were done on the last weekend of patrols.

Not knowing the conditions or being able to identify risks was most likely the cause of people needing rescue, Mr Cook said.

By comparison, there were 18 rescues in the 2019-2020 season.

Mr Cook put the increase in rescues this season down to more people spending time at the beach due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

People were unable to travel overseas so bought water-based equipment, such as jet skis and stand-up paddle boards.

Beaches were still reasonably busy despite average, overcast weather most days.

During the season, 268 lifeguards patrolled the beaches, volunteer hours reached 4395, and emergency callout hours reached 186.

There were five major first aid incidents, 15 minor ones and 12 searches.

Mr Cook encouraged people to be safe in the water if they were going to swim while the beaches were not patrolled.

It was important to swim at beaches with a surf club, so if they did get into trouble they were more likely to be rescued.

And, if they saw someone in trouble in the water, to call 111.

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