Fuseworks Media

Hot weather brings exceptionally busy weekend of rescues – SLSNZ

It was an immensely busy weekend for surf lifeguards across the country, with a head count peak of 31,946 people on kiwi beaches across the country. Strong currents and surging surf on many coastlines resulted in a number of rescues, with 45 rescues and 54 assists performed nationally across Saturday and Sunday.

Surf lifeguards were also kept exceptionally busy performing preventative actions, 1,086, with more than half of those performed by surf lifeguards patrolling in Northern Region.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Steve Fisher says that surf lifeguards in the region did exceptionally well keeping the public safe given how busy their beaches were over the weekend, with head counts in Northern Region peaking at 18,050 on Saturday and 3,350 on Sunday.

“Our surf lifeguards were kept exceptionally busy over the weekend. Not just performing rescues but taking proactive actions to stop potentially dangerous situations from escalating into a rescue scenario, or worse,” he says. “There were several incidents that could have been avoided had beachgoers followed our safety messaging – in particular to always swim between the red and yellow flags. Water conditions can change incredibly quickly, so between the flags is always the safest place to swim.”

Avoidable incidents also occurred in other regions, including multiple people being rescued from rips in Eastern Region. In Southern Region, Taylors Mistake surf lifeguards rescued a 40yo male who became caught in a rip. The man was wearing jeans, meaning he was incredibly lucky that the surf lifeguards spotted him.

Steve Fisher says it’s important to remind the public that the weight of clothing such as jeans, long t-shirts or dresses increases dramatically when it gets wet, making swimming difficult.

“It is critical to wear appropriate swimming gear when entering the water,” he says. “It could be the difference between life and death.”

Further information or for interviews please contact:

Rob Fitzgerald, Wright Communications, tel. 027 501 7800 or email

rob@wrightcommunications.co.nz

Alex O’Hara, Media & Communications Manager, Surf Life Saving New Zealand tel. 021

779 292 or email media@surflifesaving.org.nz

Weekend patrol statistics

Aggregated patrol statistics (national):

Saturday

Sunday

Combined

(Both days)

No. of people rescued

21

24

45

No. of people assisted

25

29

54

No. of major first aids

3

5

8

No. of minor first aids

52

35

87

No. of searches

4

3

7

No. of preventative actions

525

561

1,086

No. of people involved

10,948

8,643

19,591

No. of peak head count

25,930

6,016

31,946

No. of hours worked

3,940

4,296

8,236

Northern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Saturday was extremely busy for surf lifeguards in the Northern Region. Waipū Cove surf lifeguards assisted a group of three children who ended up swimming out of their depth between the flags. Because they were in between the flags, they were quickly spotted by lifeguards, who used a rescue tube to assist them back safely to the beach.

At Pākiri, surf lifeguards assisted a man who had been dumped by a wave. He was assessed as not requiring any further medical treatment and returned home to rest.

Ōmaha lifeguards responded to Goat Island after they were notified that there were two people who were drifting out to sea. They launched an inflatable rescue boat (IRB), and along with two lifeguard swimmers, rescued two people and assisted a third from where they had become stuck on the rocks. All patients were confirmed safe and well.

At Tāwharanui, a young boy went missing from a family picnic on the beach. Lifeguards conducted a brief search before the child was found and reunited with his family.

Concerned family and friends notified lifeguards at Long Bay that they had not seen their friend for over an hour, after they had gone swimming between the flags. Lifeguards began a search of the beach, and happily located the person and reunited them with their loved ones. Similarly, lifeguards at Muriwai beach were notified of a young surfer who could no longer be seen by his family. They launched an Rescue Water Craft (RWC) jet ski but the child was quickly located safe and well.

Elsewhere, surf lifeguards at Bethells Beach treated a patient who had sustained a deep laceration to their face. They were referred to Urgent Care for further medical treatment.

Early Sunday morning, lifeguards from United North Piha and Piha SLSC responded to reports of a surfer who was being dragged out to sea in a rip. The patient was assisted by another surfer and both safely returned to shore. Lifeguards were informed by St John that both surfers were safe and well and that their assistance was no longer required.

At Piha later on in the day, lifeguards launched an IRB to respond to the middle of North Piha beach, after two children got into difficulty in the water. They made it back to land with some assistance from an adult bystander, and all three were brought back to the surf club for further monitoring until Hato Hone St John first response and ambulance units arrived.

Sunset Beach lifeguards were notified of someone drowning as they were packing up their patrol for the day. Two lifeguards responded swimming with tubes, a further two lifeguards with rescue boards and an IRB also went out. The patient was located and returned to the beach in a good condition, and referred to A&E for follow-up.

Sunday: Sunday was another very busy day for surf lifeguards on Auckland’s West Coast, with high head counts resulting in multiple rescues and assists. Several beaches extended their patrol hours to ensure a safe environment as high beach numbers continued into the evening. A great effort all around today by volunteer surf lifeguards.

At Muriwai, surf lifeguards were kept very busy, with more than 1,250 people counted on the beach at one point. Lifeguards here performed 5 rescues and 4 assists. The crowds were even bigger at Long Bay, which reached a peak headcount of over 3,350 people.

Mairangi Bay lifeguards were alerted to a 40 year-old female pulled out of water by a member of the public after she attempted to swim out to the rocks and got overwhelmed by waves. Mairangi Bay’s RWC jet ski responded and assisted Hato Hone St John Ambulance and Coastguard NZ, who were on scene. Surf lifeguards liaised with the other emergency responders, and the patient put on an inflatable gurney and walked/waded out to the waiting Coastguard North Shore rescue boat, who then transported the patient back to Browns Bay. This is a great example of inter-agency work and great communication between the services.

Northern Region Statistics:

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

11

18

No. of people assisted

12

19

No. of major first aids

2

2

No. of minor first aids

14

19

No. of searches

3

1

No. of preventatives

276

387

No. of people involved

4,287

5,270

No. of peak head count

18,050

3,350

No. of hours worked

1,447

1,540

Eastern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Surf lifeguards from Hot Water Beach launched an RWC to rescue two people who got into trouble while swimming at Gemstone Bay, between Hahei and Cathedral Cove.

Surf lifeguards at Mount Maunganui provided medical attention to a female who knocked her head with a boogie board and suffered some neck pain. They remained on the beach with her until the St John ambulance arrived. Earlier in the day, the RWC assisted Ōmanu lifeguards rescuing three people who were caught in a rip.

Just south of main beach, surf lifeguards patrolling at Tay Street in Mount Maunganui experienced significant beach numbers, with 2,000 people counted on the beach between 3pm and 4pm. South again, and surf lifeguards at Ōmanu also had a busy day, assisting and rescuing 12 swimmers who were caught out by the strong currents at the beach.

Sunday: It was another busy day in the Bay of Plenty on Sunday, with several rescues and assists. At Mt Maunganui, surf lifeguards were required to perform ambulance call-

outs for two separate incidents, one for a patient who presented with abdominal pain, and another for a patient who had dislocated their shoulder. Both patients left the beach in a stable condition.

Eastern Region Statistics:

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

7

5

No. of people assisted

9

7

No. of major first aids

1

2

No. of minor first aids

1

8

No. of searches

1

1

No. of preventatives

72

59

No. of people involved

1,489

1,549

No. of peak head count

2,050

1,600

No. of hours worked

1,161

1,125

Central Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: At Seatoun in Wellington, surf lifeguards from Worser Bay Surf Lifesaving Club who were on patrol at Scorching Bay performed a rescue near the rocks.

At Foxton Beach, surf lifeguards provided first aid treatment for two patients with blue bottle jellyfish stings.

Sunday: Nothing of note.

Central region statistics:

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

1

0

No. of people assisted

2

0

No. of major first aids

0

1

No. of minor first aids

18

6

No. of searches

0

0

No. of preventatives

70

48

No. of people involved

2,259

1,111

No. of peak head count

1,000

751

No. of hours worked

685

867

Southern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Surf lifeguards at Sumner performed a rescue involving one patient, and assisted another two people in the water who had raised their hands for assistance. At Scarborough, surf lifeguards rescued a patient that was swimming outside of the flagged area.

Sunday: Taylors Mistake surf lifeguards rescued a 40yo male who became caught in a rip. The man was wearing jeans, meaning he was very lucky that the lifeguards spotted him.

Southern region statistics:

Saturday

Sunday

No. of rescues performed

2

1

No. of people assisted

2

3

No. of major first aids

0

0

No. of minor first aids

19

2

No. of searches

0

1

No. of preventatives

107

67

No. of people involved

2,913

713

No. of peak head count

4,830

315

No. of hours worked

2023-2024 Season Beach Safety Messages from SLSNZ:

1. Know How To Float

If you don’t know how to float, don’t go into the water.

Just being able to float when you are in the water can increase your chance of survival. Floating allows you to calm yourself and keep your airways out of the water. It is also the first thing to do if you get caught in a rip.

If you don’t know how to float well, practice or get some lessons in a pool before you head to the beach – being able to float is a key skill when learning to swim. Anyone can learn to float but some people may take a little longer to learn.

2. Find The Safest Place To Swim

Remember if you are heading to the beach, check www.safeswim.org.nz to find a lifeguarded beach, and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which show the safest place to swim. The surf lifeguards are there to help keep beachgoers safe, by keeping a constant eye on sea as they continuously scan for hazards or people in difficulty, keeping on top of weather forecasts and understanding the swell and tide conditions too.

3. If In Doubt, Stay Out

Waves can be bigger than they look, dangerous rip currents are hard to spot and weather conditions can be unpredictable. If you feel uncomfortable about getting into the water, stay out. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Too many people get into trouble in the water because they overestimate their abilities and underestimate the conditions.

4. Take Care of Others

Always keep children within arm’s reach in or near the water. Waves can move quickly and unexpectedly and can knock kids off their feet and sweep them away. Everyone has different levels of ability, so watch out for your mates too.

5. Know How to Get Help

If someone in the water is in trouble and surf lifeguards are on patrol, let them know. If you can’t see any surf lifeguards, call 111 and ask for police. Police have a direct line to surf lifeguards and others who can help.

If you’re in the water and in trouble yourself, signal for help.

Glossary of terms:

Rescue: Where a person requires immediate help to return to shore (or place of safety) and who without intervention would have suffered distress, injury or drowning. They are unable to remove themselves from the situation by themselves.

Assist: Where a person requires assistance to return to shore but would most likely be able to get themselves out of danger and where there is no immediate threat to life.

Minor first aid: Any incident where a patient is administered some form of minor medical treatment – minor cut, bluebottle sting, minor strain or sprains.

Major first aid: Any incident where a patient needs a higher level of medical intervention and results in the requirement for further medical treatment or is handed to another agency (ambulance or medical professional).

Search: Any organised search for a missing person or group either at sea or on land. This includes body recovery.

Preventative action: Where a surf lifeguard identifies a potentially dangerous situation and takes precautionary action to prevent the situation from developing into or contributing into a real emergency, for example:

▪ Shifting the flagged area during the day due to a change in conditions.

▪ Preventing swimmers from entering a rip or hole.

▪ Removing or isolating broken glass or other hazards from the beach.

▪ Checking on swimmers who may appear to be in difficulty.

▪ Clearing the beach of swimmers due to a suspected shark sighting.

▪ Shifting board and ski riders out of the flagged area.

 

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