Dunedin Surf Lifeguards Demonstrate Versatility

Monday, 18 December 2023

Surf lifeguards from Dunedin’s Brighton Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) showcased their varied skills away from the water’s edge as they quickly responded to a car crash.


On Sunday, 17 December, surf lifeguard James Walters was driving back to Brighton Beach after tending to an incident involving an Inflatable Rescue Boat at a nearby beach.  As he came to a bend in the road, he arrived at the scene of a serious car crash, just moments after the accident occurred. 


Without hesitation, he leapt into action, assessing the patients and radioing Seth McPhee and Shana Hindle for help.  James, who has an Outdoor Pre Hospital Emergency Care qualification, and Shana, a registered nurse, took care of the patients.  Meanwhile, another surf lifeguard Brennan Dinnissen, arrived in the club’s side-by-side with first aid supplies, and Seth handled coordination and communications.


Emergency services were called to the scene.  However, it was approximately 20 minutes before the first fire engine arrived, and over an hour passed until the first ambulance arrived.  Despite the delay, the surf lifeguards helped to keep the patients calm and comfortable.


Reflecting on the incident, Seth emphasised the importance of comprehensive training provided to surf lifeguards, stating, “This meant we had the necessary skills and knowledge to manage a complex and potentially dangerous accident scene with multiple patients.  Coordinated Incident Management Systems (CIMS) training provided through Surf Life Saving was also utilised to help coordinate and manage the response, which started with one surf lifeguard and scaled up to nearly 30 emergency personnel on the scene.”


He also highlighted the evolving responsibilities shouldered by surf lifeguards, saying, “We’re attending a wider scope of incidents than ever before, both in the water and on the beach, as well as in the community.  Surf lifeguards are highly trained in water rescue techniques, critical care first aid, and incident management, and we’re always ready to assist the community in any way we can.”


The response by surf lifeguards at Brighton Beach stands as a testament to their dedication, training, and ability to handle unexpected challenging situations.