News

Weekend Wrap: Bluebottles and Burned Feet Keep Surf Lifeguards Busy

Monday, 18 December 2023

Several incidents kept surf lifeguards busy across the country over the weekend, as people begin to move into holiday mode. Nationally, surf lifeguards rescued over eight people from potentially life-threatening situations, including being stuck in strong rip currents.

 

Over the weekend, surf lifeguards spent more than 6,800 hours volunteering to keep thousands of swimmers and beachgoers safe, performing more than 550 preventative actions.

 

Steve Fisher, SLSNZ CEO, says that one of Surf Life Saving’s core objectives is to intervene early and stop a situation from escalating. He highlighted several incidents from over the weekend of people being caught in rip currents and not knowing what to do.

 

“We saw several incidents in which beginner surfers and swimmers were caught in rips. Overall, people were well-behaved and aware of the many dangers around our coastlines. We are glad that our safety messages are getting through and our surf lifeguards continue to remain vigilant, but we want to remind people that the safest place to swim at the beach is between the red and yellow flags,” he says.

 

“Surf lifeguards were also kept busy with first aids, including more than 40 performed in just a single day at Raglan – many of those a result of blue bottle stings. There are many hazards at the beach and in the water that aren’t related to ocean conditions. Things like hot sand and blue bottles are common over the summer months.

 

“While encounters with blue bottles and hot sand are generally not life-threatening, they can be extremely painful. We encourage beachgoers to stay informed and check the Safe Swim website before heading to the beach, for both conditions and any hazards that may be present,” says Steve Fisher.

 

Weekend patrol statistics

 

Aggregated patrol statistics (national):

 

 

 

Saturday

Sunday

Combined

(Both days)

No. of people rescued

5

3

8

No. of people assisted

8

9

17

No. of major first aids

0

7

7

No. of minor first aids

16

78

94

No. of searches

3

13

16

No. of preventatives

245

311

556

No. of people involved

2,063

3,113

5,176

No. of peak head count

2,089

2,800

4,889

No. of hours worked

3,203

3,665

6,868

 

Northern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Nothing of note.

Sunday: Ōrewa responded to a patient complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain. Surf lifeguards assessed and cared for the patient until they were handed over.

On the west coast of Auckland, surf lifeguards at Piha and Muriwai both responded to first aid incidents. With pressure on ambulance services meaning long waiting periods, surf lifeguards continued to provide an important first responder service. West coast surf lifeguards want to remind beachgoers that the sand can get incredibly hot, so please bring appropriate footwear for walking along the sand to reach the water.

Further south in Raglan, the Raglan Surf Life Saving Club extended its patrol hours as beach numbers remained high well into the late afternoon. Surf lifeguards responded to more than 40 first aids, the majority of which were blue-bottle stings. A reminder for all members of the public to carry EpiPens if they are allergic to jellyfish.

Surf lifeguards at Raglan also responded to two surfers struggling to make progress in a rip current, using a rescue board to reach the surfers and then assist them in returning to shore. This involved helping one young surfer to catch a wave and coaching the other out of the rip so they could get back to shore.

Northern Region Statistics:

 

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

0

0

No. of people assisted

2

4

No. of major first aids

0

2

No. of minor first aids

11

66

No. of searches

2

2

No. of preventatives

87

151

No. of people involved

520

744

No. of peak head count

800

1200

No. of hours worked

1227

1430

 

Eastern Region patrol summary and statistics: 

Saturday: Surf lifeguards at Mt Maunganui started in the morning by responding to a boogie boarder struggling to get back to shore. Surf lifeguards launched the Rescue Water Craft (RWC) jet ski and safely returned the patient to shore. Shortly afterwards, they responded to reports of a missing child. Thankfully, a member of the public found the child and brought them to surf lifeguards to be reunited with their family.

Sunday: Mt Maunganui surf lifeguards assisted a beginner surfer who had difficulty returning to shore, while surf lifeguards at Waihi Beach responded to a medical event and treated the patient until an ambulance arrived.

Eastern Region Statistics:

 

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

1

2

No. of people assisted

5

3

No. of major first aids

0

1

No. of minor first aids

2

4

No. of searches

1

0

No. of preventatives

57

58

No. of people involved

554

730

No. of peak head count

428

377

No. of hours worked

659

845

 

Central Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: In Wellington, the Kāpiti Search and Rescue squad was activated in response to reports of a surfer in distress at Tītahi Bay, requested by Police. Thankfully, the surfer was found safe and well, and despite their prompt response the Search & Rescue squad was stood down.

At Waipātiki beach in Hawke's Bay, surf lifeguards rescued a total of four people from rips on two separate occasions.

Sunday: No update.

Central region statistics:

 

 

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

4

0

No. of people assisted

1

0

No. of major first aids

0

3

No. of minor first aids

2

4

No. of searches

0

0

No. of preventatives

62

52

No. of people involved

649

1153

No. of peak head count

461

698

No. of hours worked

790

763

 

Southern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Nothing of note.

Sunday: On Sunday, surf lifeguards from both the Sumner and Taylor’s Mistake Search & Rescue squads participated in a joint training exercise with Coastguard.

Meanwhile, surf lifeguards at Brighton assisted FENZ and ambulance services at a road crash at Big Rock near Brighton Beach, while the Otago Search & Rescue squad was called to respond to an incident at Waitaki River.

Southern region statistics:

 

 

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

0

1

No. of people assisted

0

2

No. of major first aids

0

1

No. of minor first aids

1

4

No. of searches

0

11

No. of preventatives

39

50

No. of people involved

340

486

No. of peak head count

400

525

No. of hours worked

527

627