Surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards are an under-researched, yet vital, part of the first responder workforce. Having patrolled beaches to keep the public safe for over 113 years, surf lifesavers and lifeguards often risk their own lives, placing the duty of care to others above themselves.
Continued exposure to traumatic or catastrophic rescue and first aid incidents during their time as members and first responders, has the potential to negatively affect their mental health. Additionally, with volunteers commencing their patrolling career as young as the age of 13, understanding their exposure levels to trauma and their mental health understanding and awareness is important.
This week’s guest Shane Daw is the General Manager Coastal Safety at Surf Life Saving Australia, a long-standing volunteer member of the organisation, with extensive experience in rescue helicopter operations.
Shane manages and oversees coastal safety, lifesaving, research, and emergency service functions, in addition to the operations of Southern Helicopters. Shane has more than 30 years’ experience with drowning research and development of programs to care for members involved in emergency situations. He is a member of the International Life Saving Federation Drowning Prevention Commission and was awarded an Emergency Services Medal (ESM) in the Australian Honours.
Stay tuned as Shane brings to the table a strategy to address the gaps in the under-reporting of surf lifesaver and lifeguard mental health, and how this plan can better provide for members, create evidence-based training programs and resources, and improve productivity, retention, and attraction to the surf lifesaving movement.