Singer, song-writer, lifesaver

Friday, 18 January 2013

Singer, song-writer and rising star Jamie McDell can now add Surf Lifeguard to her list of achievements. The Surf Life Saving ambassador was put through her paces at a one week intensive training camp before Christmas and she has been patrolling a number of beaches throughout her summer holidays.

The 20 year-old says the training was definitely a challenge with its mix of physical and theoretical training. The first aid component was the most valuable skill she has taken away from the whole experience. "There are so many things you learn that are useful in everyday life. It's really great knowing that you're prepared for a range of different first aid situations," she says.

Hailing from the northern surf town of Mangawhai, Jamie has always surrounded herself with the ocean. From surfing to diving to living on a sailboat in the Mediterranean for a number of years as a child, the self-confessed water baby never strays too far from the beach. So it's no surprise that she now loves being able to call herself an official Surf Lifeguard.

"It feels great! It's something I've been around for so long it just kind of feels like I'm where I should be. I love the beach and the ocean more than anything so to be around it all the time and continuously learning more about it is my perfect job," she says.

Her first patrol in Pauanui wasn't too hectic but the following few days is when it got really busy, performing 11 tube rescues as a patrol team. She has also been patrolling at Whiritoa and Whangamata saying she's really keen to learn more. "Every patrol is run differently so it's great getting a feel for the way different beaches work," she says.

Individually Jamie has performed a few minor tube rescues and first aids along with numerous preventative actions. "All of the patrol teams I've worked on so far are very proactive and great at teaching us to spot potential victims," she says.

The whole experience has inspired her to write a lot of new songs. "Of course when I'm on my breaks though as the rest of the time there's a lot more to focus on. There's so much happening and I'm surrounded by a lot of very inspiring people, I can't help but have a lot to write about."

Jamie says surf lifesaving is a lot more than just going to the beach to patrol each day, it's a place to make new friends and learn more about working with others. "There are definitely a lot of life lessons to be learnt and it's something that is very rewarding in more ways than one."

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is a national association representing 73 Surf Life Saving Clubs in New Zealand. Jamie McDell is the first musical ambassador in the history of the association and since her appointment in November she has already represented the organisation at a variety of events as well as now completing her Lifeguard award.