WA's Lifesavers raise hands for help

Surf Life Saving WA kick off their BeachSAFE Appeal on December 4, 2020 to raise money so they can continue to keep beachgoers safe across the state. Image supplied.
Surf Life Saving WA kick off their BeachSAFE Appeal on December 4, 2020 to raise money so they can continue to keep beachgoers safe across the state. Image supplied.

Last summer on WA's beaches, volunteer surf lifesavers rescued more than 780 swimmers in distress, spent more than 100,000 hours patrolling and treated 2,800 first aid cases.

Now they are asking for some help of their own.

Along with the first week of summer, the 2020 Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) BeachSAFE Appeal kicks off on December 4, 2020.

The public are being urged to dig deep to help the red and yellow army of volunteers who spend their summers keeping WA beachgoers safe.

SLSWA general manager Chris Peck said that while lifesavers volunteer their time and carry out their patrols at no cost to the community, it still costs in excess of $86,000 for a club to put one patrol on the beach.

"This includes equipment such as surf rescue boards, spinal boards, jet skis, inflatable rescue boats and defibrillators, all of which are essential pieces of equipment that enable our lifesavers to do what they are trained for - saving lives," he said.

"Many don't realise that the support and donations received from the public are essential in enabling us to continue our life saving work, both on the beaches of WA and in the community.

"This includes via our on beach patrols, assisting the Water Police in search and rescue activities, as well as in the community through the delivery of programs designed to help educate beachgoers."

Last year, WA volunteer surf lifesavers performed 787 rescues and 14,545 preventative actions.

"Based on this, we know that without our services we would likely have seen an additional 46 lives lost, and a further 28 critical injuries incurred, at a cost to the WA community in excess of $207 million," said Mr Peck

These statistics demonstrate the value of Surf Life Saving services in keeping beachgoers safe but that there is still much work to be done in achieving zero preventable drowning deaths.

This year's BeachSAFE Appeal will see a range of activities taking place, including the annual street collection on December 4, when hundreds of volunteers will take to the streets with their collection tins.

New this year, is an online BeachSAFE Giving Day whereby, if the public misses seeing volunteers on the street, they can still donate online at beachsafeappeal.com.au on December 9, 2020.

Boardies Day is also back, with businesses, schools and communities encouraged to pick a day in summer to wear their favourite board shorts or beach apparel to school or work for a gold coin donation.

People can register for Boardies Day or donate online at boardiesdaywa.com.au