Victorian lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers had their work cut out for them over the summer patrol season, performing more than 633 rescues across the state’s beaches, a 27 percent increase from 519 last season.
With temperatures soaring to as high as 42 degrees during January, visitor numbers to patrolled beaches also rose by 15 percent, from approximately 2.4 million to 2.7 million, adding additional demand to lifesaving resources.
LSV Lifesaving Operations Manager Greg Scott said that while the number of rescues had increased this year, so too had the number of preventive actions carried out by lifesavers.
“We did see the number of rescues performed this season rise, but the number of preventive actions was also up by seven percent, meaning lifesavers were diligent in taking precautions before beachgoers got into the water and into trouble,” said Mr Scott.
“I think that is a testament to the training and skills our lifesavers have in identifying potentially dangerous or deadly situations.”
Patrols across the state also reported an increase in the number of rip currents.
“Interestingly, we saw a higher frequency of rips at Victorian beaches, which made conditions difficult to predict and contributed to the increase in rescues,” said Mr Scott.
Mr Scott also pointed out that throughout the lifesaving season, LSV continued to grow its rescue water craft (commonly known as Jet Skis) services.
“Rescue water craft are a versatile rescue tool that we can use ouVolunteer tside patrolled areas, and this season lifesavers performed 11 rescue operations using the craft.
“The increase in rescue water craft patrols was a success, and we hope to continue growing this service in the future.”
Despite regular water safety programs and campaigns, sadly there were 23 fatal drownings across the state between 1 December and 28 February.
LSV Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said that was nine more than the five-year average for the same period.
“The number of drownings we saw during summer was the highest since detailed records began in 2000,” said Dr Matthews.
“Particularly now that lifesavers are finishing up patrols for the season, it’s important for people to remain vigilant at the beach and other waterways and remember to always swim with a friend.”
For information about beach conditions, check the Beachsafe App or beachsafe.org.au before leaving home.
Patrols will recommence from November 2018.