Res­cuers leave surf to teach our bush kids

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

TO THE RES­CUE! Michelle Ja­cob­son, Ann-Sophie Sul­li­van as Sandy the Surf Dog and Ja­cob Thom­son travel around ru­ral towns to talk about beach safety. FOR life­guards Michelle Ja­cob­son, Ann-Sophie Sul­li­van and Ja­cob Thom­son, duty doesn’t stop when they leave the beach.

The three trav­elled to Monto State School, St Therese Catholic School, Mug­li­die State School and Mun­dub­bera State School last week, to teach kids about surf safety through the Breaka Beach to Bush pro­gram.

“Peo­ple who live 50km or more away from the beach tend to get into the most trou­ble when they are in the wa­ter,” Sun­shine Coast life­guard Mr Thom­son said.

“We have found if we start teach­ing the kids how to be safe at the beach, that gen­er­ally gets word to adults as well.”

The Breaka Beach to Bush pro­gram has been run­ning since 2003 and it was the life­guards’ sec­ond year be­ing in­volved.

“We meet a lot of kids who have never seen the ocean be­fore, and they just have so many ques­tions about it,” Ms Ja­cob­son said.

“We con­stantly get ques­tions about whales, and lots of im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tions. Like, what do I do if a shark bites off both my legs? And then I get caught in a rip, and then I lose my gog­gles and a surf­board hits me?

“We just tell them if they swim be­tween the flags the life­guards will al­ways be there watch­ing, and I think that makes them feel a bit safer.”

But the most sur­pris­ing thing the life­guards found was how many adults did not know about the flags and CPR.

“The kids do learn a lot in our talks though and I think that helps the adults be­come more aware. One mum told me her daugh­ter talked to her for an hour and a half about our 45-minute talk,” Ms Sul­li­van said, with a laugh.

PHOTO: EMILY SMITH

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