Over 20 volunteer surf lifeguards are set to attend the Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School at Whangamata, where they’ll learn vital skills required to perform tricky rescues and ultimately save lives, thanks to support from local Kiwifruit growers through Zespri.
This is the third year Zespri has supported the training and upskilling of Volunteer Lifeguards in the Eastern Region, with the Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School becoming a core element within the lifeguard training calendar. Zespri is the Primary Regional Partner for Surf Life Saving New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Gisborne.
The annual beach-side training school is for lifeguards aged 15 years and older who have already spent one or two seasons on lifeguard patrols. It helps develop their skills further and equips them to offer assistance in more challenging rescues, such as from rocky areas, working alongside a helicopter crew, rescues where challenging teamwork is involved or working with other agencies like police or paramedics.
“Young lifeguards make up an important component in Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s beach patrols and rescue teams, and in previous years it has been exciting seeing the teens’ skills rocket up during the camp”, said SLSNZ Bay of Plenty and Coromandel club and development officer Chaz Gibbons-Campbell.
Two weeks after last year’s camp, one boy from Whangamata had already made a tricky rescue, saving a person stranded on rocks in the surf using the new skills.
“They approached in a boat and he had to jump out and swim over to the rocks. The person was very scared, so he had to coax them back into the water and swim them back to the boat,” Gibbons-Campbell said.
“Without this training, many of our lifeguards wouldn’t be able to go out and help members of the public in these challenging situations. For these younger lifeguards, it’s the first time they’re doing these things. We teach them the techniques and what to watch out for, and we can provide this structured environment where we run the scenarios to test things out, rather than having to try them out when the heat’s on.
“They already have a solid base of general lifeguarding knowledge as a lifeguard before coming, and this reinforces that and gives them more skills, so by the end they’re really good, and confident with what they’re doing.”
This year’s candidates arrive Friday November 16, and the school’s theory and practical classes will be held on Saturday November 17 and Sunday November 18 at Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club. 20 trainees will take part, from clubs in the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne areas.
“Whangamata is an absolutely perfect setting. It brings in all the elements we need to teach them – we've got difficult rock elements with the islands, and a really big beach, and it’s nice and busy which adds another good element – it's perfect,” Gibbons-Campbell said.
The club has accommodation for the teens, and the course is fully paid for by Zespri.
“This course is really, really valuable, and the support from Zespri ensures our young lifeguards can do this without too many barriers. It allows us to provide the course free of charge, so it really takes the pressure off the smaller clubs that would normally have to foot the bill for member development. Ultimately it allows more people to do the course which is good news for everyone,” Gibbons-Campbell said.
Some of the skills the young lifeguards learn include:
Lifeguards taking part in the 2018 Eastern Region Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School are:
Instructor & Mentor Team;
The Surf Life Saving New Zealand Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School will be held at Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday and Sunday November 17 and 18.
Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157