Lifesaving skills learned on the beach with a weekend of rescue scenarios for surf lifesavers

Monday, 3 December 2018

A hands-on surf lifesaving school has recently upskilled a group of talented up-and-coming lifeguards to help save lives in challenging rock rescues, helicopter call-outs and beach scenarios.

And their skills are so in-demand they have already been put to use in a real rescue.

Eighteen lifeguards from Surf Life Saving New Zealand clubs in Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Gisborne took part in the Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School. Lessons were run in the classroom, on the beach, and in the water at Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club from Friday November 16 to Sunday November 18.

The lifeguards already had the basic skills with one - two years of patrolling under their belts with their local clubs, but the school teaches higher level skills to tackle some of the more challenging real-life situations where lifeguards are called to help, said head instructor James Lloyd.

“We had a great team of instructors and mentors from around the region who helped them build upon rescue & first aid techniques, and talked to them about how things can unfold when it’s all happening, and made sure they’re prepared.”

The sunny weekend brought lots of beach-goers out, and many watched the training and chatted with the lifeguards, as they ran a huge range of practical scenarios, with training signs up.

During the weekend the group learned about first aid treatment of spinal injuries, heart attacks and anaphylactic reaction, how to set up a landing space for a helicopter, tube and board rescues, and spent a lot of time on rescues on and off rocks. 

“With the environments around New Zealand’s coast, we’re often operating in large swells and strong currents and around rocks. There’s lots of Kiwis that like to walk on the rocks and fish off them,” Lloyd said. 

“So we staged lots of rescues off the rocks and showed our lifeguards how to navigate getting patients off the rocks safely in the surf. We first spent a lot of time in the classroom with our instructors who’ve been around for some time, and made sure the lifeguards understood all the safety aspects and correct techniques before heading out and putting it into practice.”

And the skills have already been put to use, with one student using his training to take part in a rock rescue on Tuesday November 20.

“Instructor Phoebe Havill (Onemana SLSC) was able to take student Callum Fulton (Whangamata SLSC) with her on the rescue, which helped bring home how important these skills are”, Lloyd said.

Lloyd was impressed with all the candidates’ enthusiasm, learning and growth in their skills through the weekend.  

“For them to be there, they are already people who are doing a lot to give back to their community and to those around them.  But they learned a lot and developed skills and leadership with the teamwork they were doing together.

“These guys are the next leaders for these clubs and I’m looking forward to seeing them take the skills they have learnt back to their clubs and local communities.”

The Top Candidate was awarded to Lukas Harris from Pukehina Surf Rescue, while the Best Attitude award went to Sam Cox from Pauanui SLSC. Out of the Mentors, Georgia Eldridge from Waihi Beach Lifeguard Service was named as Top Mentor.

The school is fully sponsored by Zespri, who are the Primary Regional Partner for Surf Life Saving New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Gisborne, which gives a huge boost to the lifeguards who attended the school and takes the financial pressure of those volunteers and the clubs that support them.

“It’s really important to have that support from Zespri so our lifeguards can keep upskilling and be ready when people need their help,” Lloyd said.

“Without their support we wouldn’t have been able to run the school.”

  • Top candidate 2018: Lukas Harris, Pukehina Surf Rescue
  • Top Mentor 2018: Georgia Eldridge, Waihi Beach Lifeguard School
  • Best attitude 2018: Sam Cox, Pauanui Surf Life Saving Club

Some of the skills the young lifeguards learned included: 

  • Setting up helicopter landing zones and safety around helicopters
  • An introduction to SAR (search and rescue)
  • Navigation and rescues from rocky areas, and entering and exiting the water around rocks
  • Tube and board rescues
  • Communication while under pressure, teamwork and leadership
  • How to request help from, and work with, external agencies
  • Reinforcing and building on first aid skills
  • Scanning and surveillance

For more information, please contact:

Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157