Following National Volunteer Week in May unpaid helpers belonging to emergency responder groups such as the Marine Rescue, State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Surf Life Saving (SLS) received a 'thank you' card leading into this month's Thank a First Responder Day.
The theme of this card was 'Better Together'.
Marine Rescue NSW has more than 3000 professionally trained volunteers who are committed to saving lives on the water.
Every NSW SES volunteer is part of a team of more than 10,000 highly-trained professionals across the State who share a commitment to helping their communities.
Every NSW SES volunteer is part of a team of more than 10,000 highly-trained professional
The NSW RFS comprises almost 2000 rural fire brigades with a total volunteer membership of approximately 72,000.
With 181,572 members nationally, and 314 affiliated Surf Life Saving clubs, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) represents the largest volunteer movement of its kind in the world.
Thank a First Responder Day is a timely reminder to the community and visitors to thank all the amazing volunteers who support us locally during times of need.
It is also timely to acknowledge the needs of emergency responder groups in maintaining and increasing the numbers of volunteers.
SLSA strives to create a safe environment through patrols, education and training, public safety campaigns and the promotion of health and fitness.
Surf Life Saving on the Lower North Coast (LNC) of NSW is comprised of Crowdy Head, Taree-Old Bar, Black Head, Forster, Cape Hawke and Pacific Palms clubs.
Roles within SLSA are many and varied.
Those on active beach patrols work hard in their own time to gain their required awards and to maintain their skills and fitness.
Members give of their time on weekends and public holidays during patrolling months - which extends from September to April - to ensure the safety of local and visiting beach-goers.
A common scenario on the Lower North Coast is for patrols to be rostered on a four hour shift during which preventative interventions and rescues are performed.
Preventative interventions include advising swimmers on beach and surf conditions.
Within the wider community, SLSA members are also on hand to assist during emergency situations including flood rescues, searches and retrievals.
SLSA volunteers are also vital in ensuring the nippers education programs for children aged 5-14 years.
Roles within this group include age managers and water safety officers (WSO) but also extends to assisting with fundraising barbecues and social nights.
WSOs are provided with the skills and knowledge of surf awareness, aquatic rescues and resuscitation in order to support children in their respective training courses.
A WSO requires a minimum of a Surf Rescue Certificate which entails membership of a club, being at least 13 years of age, and a swim of 200 metres in five minutes or less.
A new role has emerged over the past five years - piloting a UAV (un-crewed aerial device).
This is a role which can be undertaken by anyone of age 16 years or more regardless of physical fitness.
This enables a SLSA member to fly a sub two kilo drone for shark mitigation surveillance and water safety monitoring.
The UAV program is funded through the NSW government and the number of beaches covered is being expanded on an annual basis.
Surf life saving clubs are central hubs of communities around Australia and are at the heart of surf life saving.
They're more than just a building, they're a place to call home, they're like a family.
No matter who you are, or what your background, everyone is welcome and there is a role for everyone no matter your skill level.
To become involved or to find out more about local surf lifesaving, new volunteers can head to club websites to learn how they can become another element in making our community 'Better Together.'
Boasting more than 75,000 members in NSW alone it can rightfully claim to be one of the largest volunteer organisations of its type in the country.
The State's lifesavers are involved at 129 clubs, patrolling more than 1500 kilometres of coastline from Lighthouse Beach in the north to Pambula Beach in the south, and building on a legacy that can be traced back to the early 20th century.
The origins of Surf Life Saving NSW, and indeed Australia, can be traced back to the actions of William Gocher at Manly Beach in September 1902, defying the law of the time by bathing during the prohibited hours.
As surf bathing grew in popularity, its dangers just as rapidly became apparent. Small groups of experienced and regular surfers began to form themselves into lifesaving bodies to assist those who required to be rescued from an unfamiliar environment.
As clubs grew the need for a united front to raise funds and seek assistance from local and state governments resulted in the formation of the NSW Surf Bathing Association on October 18, 1907.
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