Coffs the safest place to be this week

MORE than 100 of Australia's finest lifeguards will be descending on Coffs Harbour this week for their annual three-day conference.

Professional ocean lifeguards are employed by local authorities all over Australia - from south eastern NSW to Noosa in Queensland and west to Broome.

The conference, which kicks off on Wednesday, will provide opportunities for lifeguards to compare and review best practices in rescue, emergency care and beach management.

The current National President of the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association, Greg Hackforth, is also the Lifeguard Co-ordinator here at Coffs Harbour.

“There is always something new we can learn from these conferences,” he said.

“At previous conferences we have seen new medical approaches like defibrillation, the use of analgesic gases for pain management and advanced spinal trauma management.

“There are ever expanding numbers of people choosing to use our beaches all around Australia in a range of different recreational manners so improved procedures for using key rescue equipment is essential.”

The conference will hold a number of workshops, including the use of jet skis with rescue sleds, and will evaluate a number of new programs.

Association secretary and treasurer John Andrews said this year's conference will address many important issues.

“We will be looking at the science of hazard identification including rips, systems for improved surveillance of swimmers and reducing the threat of human contact with sharks,” he said.

“The challenge for all councils who control and manage beaches is to continually look to improve all aspects of their lifeguard operations.”

The continued population shift to coastal areas and trends in beach recreation like the use of jet skis, and kite boards has impacted on the traditional role of professional ocean lifeguards.

“This conference provides career professionals with an opportunity to discuss improvements for water safety in and around our beaches,” added Hackforth.

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