Zach Hogg

New 4WD to offer more efficient rescues

PEOPLE using North Coast beaches will be safer this summer thanks to a $48,500 grant from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.

The grant to Surf Life Saving Far North Coast was used to buy a new 4WD emergency response vehicle that will offer a more efficient rescue service around the more remote stretches of coast between Yamba and Fingal Heads.

The charitable foundation's executive officer, Jason Bourke, said the grant would help build the capacity of volunteer surf life saving duty officers to improve the level of support and response time to emergencies at local beaches and waterways.

"This new 4WD vehicle, fitted with electronic signs, PA system and advanced first aid equipment, ensures that the community and those using isolated, hard to-get-to beaches have the best chance of survival if they get into trouble or suffer a serious medical incident," Mr Bourke said.

The fully-equipped emergency 4WD vehicle would provide the missing link in safety surveillance and patrols for one of NSW's most famous and visited stretches of coastline, said Wilson Cregan, president of Surf Life Saving Far North Coast.

"As a volunteer rescue service, SLS Far North Coast duty officers have until now been using their own vehicles to access difficult areas by 4WD, but thanks to the charitable foundation's grant, we'll be using a fully-equipped, safer and more capable vehicle to supervise and intervene in situations further from our clubhouses," Mr Cregan said.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast provides the services, training and programs for volunteer surf life savers to ensure safe beaches for local people and visitors and to carry out emergency rescues if required.

Last year the organisation's 1300 volunteers conducted almost 130 rescues, more than 6000 preventative rescue actions, nearly 100 search operations and more than 80 after-hours search and rescue call-outs.

Each of the region's 10-member surf clubs provides volunteer duty officers who manage emergency rescues and searches and help ensure emergency services provide a co-ordinated response, often in isolated locations without road access, making the new 4WD vehicle invaluable to their efforts.

Did you know ...

The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation distributes more than $1.5 million annually, totalling more than $14 million to date, for projects and programs which support and assist young people or improve health and wellbeing outcomes for the disadvantaged throughout the Hunter, Mid North Coast, Central West, Central Coast, Northern Rivers and New England regions.

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