Volunteer lifeguards keep us safe

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Daniel Gradiska, Phoebe Munro
LIFE SAVERS: Regional patrol captain Daniel Gradiska, 37, with lifeguard Phoebe Munro, 20, at Karekare Beach.

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It's the shock etched on people's faces that sticks with Daniel Gradiska the most.

After 12 years with Karekare Surf Life Saving Club the regional patrol captain has had his fair share of rescues.

But it's the ones where emotions run high that are the most memorable, he says.

"This summer it was the age and the reaction of the people that were involved," Mr Gradiska says.

"They were really startled and it took them a long time to recover.

"There were a few tears shed and a lot of crying and emotion even though the situation didn't really get out of hand."

Regional lifeguards like Mr Gradiska at Karekare and Piha clubs put in more than 3700 hours per season with voluntary lifeguard hours exceeding 9000.

The annual two-month Surf Summer Appeal is ending this weekend as Karekare's season comes to a close with many Aucklanders heading back to work,

Today they're having a national collection drive with volunteer lifeguards collecting on the streets.

Small clubs like Karekare can cost about $100,000 to run.

A bigger club like Piha is closer to $250,000.

Costs include oxygen bottles, rescue tubes and boards, defibrillator and inflatable rescue boats (IRBs).

The collection has raised up to $350,000 in previous years.

Every little bit counts with 643 lives saved in the northern region last year.

At a famous beach like Karekare Mr Gradiska says many of these people are tourists who are often surprised with how rough the sea can be. Volunteers will be collecting today at Westgate shopping centre, outside The Warehouse Lincoln Rd and Countdown Te Atatu. Donations can be made online or by texting Surf to 933 to donate $3.

Visit surflifesaving.org.nz.

THE NUMBERS

In 2013 northern region lifeguards:

Saved 643 lives

Provided 789 first aid treatments

Undertook 136 searches

Put 13,000 school pupils through surf education

Spent 80,371 hours on patrol. 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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