Almost a month since volunteer lifesavers last placed the red and yellow flags into the sand at Mallacoota beach, patrols at the surf life saving club started again today.
The first patrol of 2020 for the club was made possible thanks to the support of Life Saving Victoria, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service and clubs from around the state who donated equipment and supplies to the club.
“It’s the first time this year that it’s felt like Mallacoota, or even like summer,” said one club member, Dr Sara, who has been working to keep the medical centre operational 24/7 since the devastating fires ravaged the region, burning the club’s first-aid caravan to the ground.
“It was especially good for the kids in the club,” said Simon Berry, the club’s Vice President. “It was that sense of normality that we were able to create by being back on patrol which was fantastic.”
Conditions were perfect for the volunteers, with a slight onshore wind pushing smoke away from the beach, letting around 30 beachgoers enjoy the water and the club members train on the club’s Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB).
Life Saving Victoria’s lifesaving operations manager Liam Krige was part of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter crew who flew to Mallacoota with a stopover at Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club to pick up supplies, such as beach patrol flags.
“Flying over the area in the helicopter really put the devastation into perspective,” said Liam. “The scale of damage to the landscape is immense.”
However, he said the club members and community showed a really positive outlook, despite their sadness.
“They’re making the best of a bad situation and the underlying hope they feel is bringing out the best in people,” said Liam. “That spirit is really nice to see.”
“If there’s a silver lining, it’s the support the lifesaving community near and far has shown us,” says Simon. “We would like to thank every single person who has contacted us and offered help in any way. It’s been overwhelming and we’re massively grateful – the community spirit in lifesaving is pretty amazing.”
As a thank you, the club is planning to arrange a patrol that will invite members of clubs from around Australia to come to Mallacoota to patrol, as well as support the local community as it gets back on its feet.
Club members were only able to return to their homes a few days ago, with much clean-up to come as they rebuild their lives, but another patrol is planned for Australia Day afternoon to help the community enjoy the water safely this long weekend.
Congratulations Mallacoota SLSC on your first patrol of 2020.