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Shellharbour City Council lifeguards recognised by APOLA

Shellharbour City Council lifeguards recognised by APOLA
March 17, 2023

Six Shellharbour City Council lifeguards who helped save a boy struck by lightning have been recognised by the Australian Pool and Ocean Lifeguard Association (APOLA).

APOLA President and Head Lifeguard at Waverley Council, Bruce ‘Hoppo’ Hopkins this week presented the lifeguards with Meritorious Service Awards in recognition of the dangerous nature of the rescue, bravery and outstanding application of life saving rescue and first aid skills.

Hopkins, who is known around the world from the popular television show Bondi Rescue, paid tribute to the lifeguards - Thomas Bitz, Liam Pass, Sean Ritter, Deakin Southern, Daniel St George and Byron Vinkovic - at the Shellharbour Civic Centre on Wednesday 15th March.

The lifeguards involved were situated close to where the little boy was struck at Warilla Beach on 26th January.

They called emergency services and provided first aid before handing over to NSW Ambulance.

Shellharbour City Council Chief Executive, Mike Archer said he was thrilled to see Council’s lifeguards involved in the incident receive recognition from APOLA, commenting “APOLA is the peak industry body for professional lifeguards, so to have the president of their organisation come to Shellharbour and recognise our staff for the way they conducted themselves during that incident was very special.

“These young lifeguards were faced with an extremely confronting situation in which they demonstrated their professionalism, skill and composure.”

Praising the Council lifeguards’ professionalism, Hopkins added “Australia Day is one of the busiest days on the calendar for council lifeguards. After 30 years working at Bondi, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. But a lightning strike under clear blue skies directly hitting the young boy in the water is very rare.

“The way the lifeguards minimised the response time and delivered CPR to the young boy, resulting in a successful resuscitation, is testament to their training and professionalism.

“While council lifeguards don’t expect recognition, it was important for me to personally thank them for achieving such a great result.”

The six lifeguards involved in the incident also received certificates of recognition from Shellharbour City Council last month.

Images shows, from left: Deakin Southern, Liam Pass, Byron Vinkovic, Bruce Hopkins, Sean Ritter and Daniel St George. Not present: Thomas Bitz.

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2nd December 2022 - Randwick City and Waverley councils launch Float to Survive initiative to reduce national drownings 

14th November 2022 - Sunshine Coast Council agrees new lifeguarding partnership with Surf Life Saving Queensland

7th November 2022 - Lifeguard shortage results in late start for South Grampians’ outdoor pool openings

30th September 2022 - Council to offer support to lifeguards after near drowning at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre

18th September 2022 - Professional ocean lifeguard patrols ramping up for summer

17th September 2022 - Sunshine Coast Council to spend $5.7 million on lifeguard services this financial year

9th September 2022 - APOLA President Bruce Hopkins gains support for adoption of Float to Survive initiative as a national anti-drowning prevention message

2nd September 2022 - City of Canterbury Bankstown to host lessons on Float to Survive techniques

9th July 2022 - Waverley Council sacks beach lifeguards over their COVID-19 vaccine status

24th May 2022 - Conference sees APOLA ride a wave of change

13th May 2022 - Bondi Beach lifeguard facility upgrades due for completion in September

1st August 2014 - 10 year Shellharbour Council subsidies total $10 million for pools and $6.5 million on sports fields

25th November 2009 - End of Free Swimming at Shellharbour

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