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'It's about saving lives'

A SURF lifesaving boss has defended the actions of Caloundra lifesavers against criticism some volunteers are "power hungry".

Metropolitan Caloundra deputy president Craig Spender said the lifesavers accused of being overzealous were simply trying to keep swimmers safe.

But Mr Spender admitted lifesavers might need more training in diplomacy when it came to directing the public with a microphone.

The Daily reported yesterday of complaints some lifesavers at Kings Beach had been "incompetent" and "power-hungry".

Katie Schmidt, a former lifesaver, said she feared some lifesavers would turn tourists off by "screaming" into a microphone.

Ms Schmidt referred to an incident on Boxing Day when a volunteer lifesaver had screamed "down a microphone ... at a surfer who was enjoying himself and was clearly more than competent".

Daily bloggers were split on the issue yesterday.

Mr Spender, a lifesaver of 37 years, said the horrendous conditions that closed beaches on Monday were not safe even for competent surfers.

He said it was almost impossible to know the competency of any surfer, and lifesavers were simply trying to keep swimmers out of danger.

"Quite often you will find that people swimming outside the flags or boardriders who are riding their boards inside the swimming area think if we move them on that it's a power trip," he said.

"It is our job to ensure swimmers' safety.

"I'm happy for lifesavers to take responsibility for asking people to remove themselves from the water."

Mr Spender said volunteers were "trained in lifesaving, not diplomacy".

"We could probably do with some additional training dealing with the public," he said.

"However, bear in mind that on the day in question (Monday) the surf was humungous."

Mr Spender said council laws stopped swimmers using closed beaches.

Offenders face being removed by police.

Topics:  kings beach surf life saving



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