Government Funding Turning Surfers into Lifeguards

Just one part of a $1.2 million initiative by the NSW Government to curb an increasing number of drowning deaths and near misses off the coast, surfers will be taught CPR and rescue skills to help them assist swimmers in need.

With only 5% of Australian beaches being patrolled in summer, most of the time swimmers in trouble have no chance of rescue, unless a surfer happens to be out the back. Credited with hundreds of rescues a year, surfers might just be the key to turning the increasing number of deaths due to drowning around.

"I'm a former full time professional surfer turned lifeguard now so I guess my skill set is ideal for what we're trying to educate people here," explains Blake Thorton, key advocate for the program.

Basic CPR training, and rescue techniques will be taught for free to interested surfers on beaches up and down the NSW coast this season as part of the 'Surfers Rescue Program". The project alone will receive $200,000 from the $1.2 million allocated, with a host of other programs aimed at teaching water safety skills to high-risk groups directly - migrants, children and indigenous communities.

Look out for information regarding the Surfers Rescue Program at your local beach over the next few months, and keep an eye out for someone you might be able to help next time you're out for a surf.