Paramedics, lifesavers plead with swimmers: ‘Be vigilant’

PARAMEDICS are urging holidaymakers to be much more water safe after a drowning spike as lifesavers warn about dangers of "inflatables" at the beach.

Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Grace Elliott said 100 extra paramedics and supervisors were rostered on for New Year's Eve-related incidents.

"We (saw) a number of incidents in line with intoxication, assaults, falls, that sort of thing," she said. "What we have seen as an ambulance service over the past three days and something that is of increasing concern to us is the number of drownings.

An Alexandra Headland team flies high during the Queensland IRB (inflatable rescue boat) Championships on the Gold Coast.
An Alexandra Headland team flies high during the Queensland IRB (inflatable rescue boat) Championships on the Gold Coast.

"We would really like to ask everyone to be mindful and vigilant of everyone in and around the water during this holiday period. We have seen an increase in these types of incidents over the past few days and we don't want it to continue."

Ms Elliott said most recent drownings incidents had involved children but some were adults and intoxication was a risk factor around the water.

She urged people to stay out of it if they had been drinking.

Paramedics were called to a Surfers Paradise address where a child nearly drowned in a pool about 10am on Thursday.

A Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman said the girl, under 10, was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

A man was also taken to hospital after nearly drowning at Main Beach at 3pm the same day.

Meanwhile, Surf Life Saving Queensland is warning beachgoers to keep inflatables away from the ocean after multiple people were rescued last summer on floaties.

In December 2019 and January 2020 surf lifesavers and lifeguards rescued nine people on inflatable devices and cautioned countless others.

Lifesaving Services Manager Peta Lawlor said inflatables should not be used in open water.

"Inflatables are great to use at home in the pool, but at the beach and in creeks there are a range of conditions to contend with," she said.

"In tidal creeks like Tallebudgera and Currumbin we see people being swept out to sea on their inflatables in strong outgoing tides.

In December 2019 and January 2020 surf lifesavers and lifeguards rescued nine people on inflatable devices and cautioned countless others. Picture Glenn Hampson
In December 2019 and January 2020 surf lifesavers and lifeguards rescued nine people on inflatable devices and cautioned countless others. Picture Glenn Hampson

"While at the beach people often get into trouble in the waves as they cannot negotiate them easily while wearing or laying on a floatie."

Ms Lawlor said the use of inflatables to assist weak swimmers to stay afloat, including kids, needs to stop.

"Weak swimmers often try to use inflatables in the surf as a flotation device but they just provide them with a false sense of security," she said.

"A wave may cause them to lose grip of the floatie and they panic immediately which is when lifesavers have to spring into action.

"Alarmingly we also see parents using inflatable rings to hold children afloat, but they can easily slip out of the ring and find themselves in trouble."

HOW TO STAY SAFE AT THE BEACH

1 - Swim between the flags: Lifeguards and lifesavers know the unique characteristics of their beaches. Let them ensure you swim in the safest possible spot. This is especially critical between Miami and The Spit.

2 - Don't swim at dawn or dusk: Ensure you only enter the water during patrolled times at a patrolled beach.

3 - Don't be fooled by calm waters between breaking waves: That can be the worst place to swim - it often indicates a rip. The waves can't break because of a hole between sandbanks and it creates a passage for water to rush out to sea.

4 - The presence of surfers doesn't mean you're safe: They are not keeping an eye on you. They'll help if they see you in trouble but if you're in the water, they are right to assume you can look after yourself.

5 - Educate yourself: Find where the nearest patrolled beach is. Learn to identify a rip. Volunteer to be a lifesaver. Visit www.lifesaving.com.au

kyle.wisniewski@news.com.au

Originally published as Paramedics, lifesavers plead with swimmers: 'Be vigilant'


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