Susanne is an active patroller, First Aider, Trainer and Assessor in Bronze, Advanced Resuscitation Techniques (ART)-Spinal & First Aid. In December she received a 2016 Premier’s Volunteer Champions Award in the Service category awarded by the Governor.
Current Club: Mornington LSC
How long have you been involved in lifesaving? Eight years.
How did you become involved with lifesaving?
As an English migrant – like many other people who migrate to Australia – I am cautious of the sea! Not only what lives in it, but how unpredictable it can be. I needed to learn [about water safety] because I came to Australia with three children; I had to educate them on what to do in any given situation.
I went along to our local club, we joined as a family, and the rest is history. We all went on to become lifesavers. I found volunteering rewarding and every time I don the patrol uniform, I feel a sense of pride to be part of such an iconic Australian institution.
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I am first and foremost an active patrolling member; I patrol regularly as we have a roster. As one of Mornington LSC’s trainers for the Bronze Medallion, Spinal Management, Advanced Resuscitation Techniques and First Aid, I conduct regular training. In addition, I am an assessor in all of these areas.
My responsibilities have somehow grown to ‘share the love’ at other clubs in my local area. I also deliver these training units at Mount Martha and Dromana LSCs, as well as assessing at Mount Martha, Dromana, Rosebud and Point Leo.
I assist with training units that need to be covered within our Nippers program, such as DRSABCD and with fundraising events held at our club, such as The Bloody Big Swim & The Grand Swim, where I am usually a First Aider on site.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
In my regular work outside of LSV, I deliver first aid on a daily basis, so I continuously talk about water safety, causes of drowning and how to prevent incidents from occurring.
Each day I am giving out information to students on their closest clubs to join, where to get information on lifesaving, and the pathways to becoming a qualified lifesaver.
I teach many classes in the community to English as Second Language (ESL) students. These students are often unaware that lifesaving is an option for them and their families, as an opportunity to participate and learn water safety.
What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?
Firstly – joining the Life Saving Club and getting started was a huge achievement for a foreign mother migrating with three sons.
Once I was a member, each stage felt like a considerable milestone at the time. I took particular pride in passing my first ‘run swim run’ assessment; it really felt that I was saying goodbye to pool-only swimming and hello to open water!
Once I qualified as a lifesaver I began to compete in surf boat rowing and achieved a bronze medal, then a silver medal and went onto win our state championships gold medal in masters rowing, with races held on ocean surf beaches. I felt comfortable and safe due to my awareness and training and I can recommend surf boat racing as an exhilarating sport to be part of! I am fortunate to have competed in surf boat rowing for three different lifesaving clubs; Mornington, Rosebud and Anglesea. This presented opportunities to compete at national level against teams from all over Australia! One competition was the legendary George Bass surf boat marathon – a truly epic challenge that put all my training, courage and stamina to the ultimate test in 2013-14.
This December I was humbled and proud to have been awarded a 2016 Premier’s Volunteer Champions Award in the Service category and received the award by the Governor herself.
In light of these achievements, however, I would say that my greatest achievement so far remains an incident where I recognised a kayaker in distress, who had capsized and was in real danger of drowning. The young foreign student was a non-swimmer and inexperienced in kayaking and had removed his life jacket. Due to the conditions and fatigue, he was suffering from shock and hypothermia. I initiated the rescue and we used our surf boat to reach him just in time.
Where you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
I volunteer with two programs in my local community that use volunteers and healthy foods to bring isolated residents together for a meal. These are run by the Mornington Information Centre and Saint Macartan’s Church. This, together with my volunteering for LSV, keeps me extremely busy. When I do find time for relaxation, I like nothing more than to read a good book and enjoy a coffee at one of our many local cafes and when weather permits, I like to cycle around the Peninsula.