On patrol


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Surf lifesaving patrol captain, Dr Murray Hayes of Kawana Dental in Buddina, Queensland, has 12 kilometres of beach to keep safe.

“One cold, windy day, I was off duty as a volunteer surf lifesaver at Bondi Beach, just sitting near the tower and eating a hamburger. I heard a weird, wailing noise and out in the water was a lone man in a lot of trouble. The rescue board was on the beach so I stripped down to my underwear, grabbed the board and paddled out.

“Once I had him back on dry land and was sure he was fine, he left the beach. About two hours later, a guy in a business suit came up to me, shook my hand and thanked me for saving his life. He was a German tourist who didn’t want to miss out on a swim at Bondi. He gained that experience and had a story to take home with him.

“Towards the end of my dental studies, some of my friends were part of North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club in Sydney. I decided to join the club and become a lifesaver. 

“There’s a lot of training, theoretical work and assessments when you become a lifesaver. It covers everything from resuscitation techniques and board paddling to setting up the beach and rescue training. 

“When we moved to Queensland, I joined the Kawana Surf Lifesaving Club. Bondi is a kilometre from end to end but can have tens of thousands of people on it. Kawana is 12 kilometres end to end but usually only has a couple of hundred people. We have our patrol set up in one specific location, but we answer call-outs from up and down the entire beach. We use a four-wheel drive, quad bike and an inflatable rescue boat to get us where we need to go.

“I’m a patrol captain now and I do a half-day patrol every three weeks. When the beach gets busy around public holidays, you end up doing a few extra shifts. On Christmas Day the beach is patrolled by volunteers and for the past five years, I’ve been the Christmas Day patrol captain. The family comes down to the beach and we make a day of it.

“Volunteering as a surf lifesaver is a vital job and a great way to give back to the community. It’s a fantastic environment for a family because you’re surrounded by like-minded people who are fitness and community oriented. Even if I wasn’t a lifesaver, I would be at the beach every day. This way I stay fit, help people and am actively involved with the local community.” 

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