I figure today I'll do a special blog on the lifeguards of Sydney. Last weekend I went for a walk between Clovelly and Bondi and spent a half hour or so watching the local lifeguards go through their rescue drills at Tamarama.
Tamarama is a lovely little beach tucked in between Bondi and Bronte. While beautiful, it is deemed one of the most dangerous beaches in Sydney as a result of strong rips and current. It is also home to a nasty stretch of rocks called "The Twins". This stretch at the south end of the beach is particularly dangerous to swimmers and surfers as a result of the many underwater ledges and sharp rocks. Last July a well-liked Sydney executive lost his life at the Twins after being washed into the area while surfing. He suffered a head injury and drowned.
This year, partially as a result of his death, the councils announced a longer season of lifeguard patrols for Tamarama and neighbouring Bronte. And last weekend the lifeguards were out practicing rescue drills right around the vicinity of the Twins. It was quite a calm day - sunny, no wind and minimal swell. Despite this, the area around the Twins was still like a washing machine.
The lifeguards had a jetski and a lifesize rescue dummy which they practiced letting go into the water and retrieving from multiple locations using various techniques. First the female lifeguard was the main rescuer, then the male lifeguard. Sometimes they swam the dummy to the rocks and climbed out onto the ledges with it. Sometimes they swam the dummy out into deeper water and climbed on the sled that was secured on the rear of the jetski. Sometimes they pulled the dummy onto their paddleboards and paddled to the jetski. Then the jetski, loaded with the three lifeguards, dummy, and paddleboard would motor into shore and onto the sand for a mock resucitation and then they would turn around to do it all over again.
They must have been exhausted by the end of their drills but they did it with absolute focus. And less than an hour later they had moved up to Bondi Beach to practice manuevers with the jetski in the surf, weaving in and out of the weekend surfers and swimmers.