Lifesavers pack away the flags as the surf season ends

By SAMANTHA HEALY

VOLUNTEER lifesavers pulled up their red and yellow flags yesterday afternoon to mark the official end of the summer beach patrol season along the coast.

More than 30,000 volunteers have patrolled NSW beaches this summer, performing thousands of rescues, first aid treatments and preventative actions.

From today they will enjoy some down-time and prepare for the summer 2007/08 season.

The season in the Northern Rivers was marked by a number of local drownings, including a Japanese tourist at Byron Bay in March, a German tourist off Lennox Head in January and a Brunswick Heads man the same month.

The body of the German tourist has not been found.

For lifesavers, the season also ended with the unceremonious sacking of the Far North Coast lifeguard supervisor Peter Baird.

Mr Baird was dumped after complaining to the media about the shortage of lifeguards on Far North Coast beaches.

There is increasing discussion that Far North Coast beaches are approaching a point where they will need full-time patrols.

On Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay main beaches, surf cams also came into operation during the season, allowing surf patrols to monitor beach conditions from a central point and allowing lifesavers to find out early if there are dangerous surf conditions.

Volunteer lifesavers will begin their 2007/08 patrol season on September 29.



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