All morning, kids queued up to get towed behind the rescue jet ski in the Brunswick River, to squeal with delight as it twisted and turned at speed in a flurry of spray. They were part of Monday’s inaugural Community Ocean Awareness Day at Brunswick Heads, a day organised jointly by the Brunswick Surf Life Saving Club (BSLSC) and the Brunswick Board Riders (BBR), together with Surfing Far North Coast(SFNC) and Brunswick Valley Volunteer Marine Rescue.
"The idea for the day came about after the tragic drowning of a local boy last year," explained Stephen Foreman, regional coach and director of SFNC and past vice-president of BBR. "The underlying theme is to make Brunswick Heads a proactive community in case of an emergency, not a reactive one." During the course of the morning there was a swim or paddle from Torakina to the Sound Shell, rides on the lifeboats, mock rescues, five-minute talks from each of the organisations present on the best thing to do in an emergency situation, and entertainment organised by local youth worker Michelle Grant and Maggie Brown from Byron Shire Council. Everything was free, with no fund-raising involved.
"I’m so pleased and proud of it," said Stephen. "The community’s got behind it, it’s just a wonderful experience." And both Stephen and Craig Reid from BSLSC were also very happy with their co-operation for the day, a co-operation that in the past would have been much more difficult because of the traditional animosity between boardies and clubbies. "That’s all in the past for us," said Stephen, "because our two organisations have a great relationship." Craig was quick to point out the vital role that board riders play in rescues. "Board riders never get heard about as such," he said, "but they and the surf lifesaving club carry out most rescues, and most board rescues tend to go undocumented."
Byron Shire News 09/10/08