Becoming a Fitzroy SLSC Patrol Member
Lifesaving is our clubs foremost concern and Fitzroy Beach is patrolled every weekend throughout the summer months – November through to mid-March – by volunteer lifeguards. Paid lifeguards patrol the beach over the week days during January and February.
Becoming a Lifeguard
To become a lifeguard you must complete your Surf Lifeguard Award (historically known as the Bronze Medallion award).
You can start doing your training for this at any time but can only sit the exam for the award once you have turned 14 years old. The club usually starts training the new lifeguards once you are 14 (or if you are 13 and will be 14 during the coming season).
Fitzroy SLSC runs classes during September and October, preparing you for your award.
You will work through a work book with an instructor covering theory around First Aid, beach management, emergency responses, communication and lifeguarding skills.
Practical skills are also taught and assessed.
To gain your Surf Lifeguard Award, all of the below criteria will need to be assessed and passed.
The club wants as many skilled and competent lifeguards patrolling Fitzroy beach as possible, so we will do all we can to help you get to the level required to pass the Surf Lifeguard Award.
Once you are over the age of 14 and have passed your Surf Lifeguard Award, you will be issued with your lifeguard uniform and allocated to a Patrol.
Fitzroy has four patrols, made up of patrollers with different levels of experience, each with a patrol captain.
Each patrol is “on duty” for one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) 12.30pm until 5pm, per month. It is the lifeguard’s responsibility to find a replacement patroller and to notify the patrol captain, if for any reason, you cannot commit to the rostered patrol. You are able to do more patrols than your one rostered, you just need to check with the on duty Patrol Captain.
Once you have passed your Surf Lifeguard Award you are also eligible to compete as a senior competitor. Senior competitive age groups are: Under 16, Under 19 and Open for board, swim, ski, beach and canoe events; Under 21, Women, Senior and Premier for IRB racing events and U21, U23 and Open for Surf Boat racing events.
Part of the obligation to be able to compete as a senior for Fitzroy SLSC is for you to have done 20 hours of either patrolling or helping out with Sunday Junior Surf mornings. It is up to you to record these hours by signing in and out of the Patrol book – speak to your patrol captain if you have any questions about this.
Patrol members are always very welcome to assist with junior surf. Your input is greatly valued by the instructors, parents and the kids – they love having you helping them out and motivating them.
Some of you may wish to patrol, but not compete. This is also absolutely fine and is extremely helpful when some patrol members are away competing regionally or nationally. They then rely on our non-competitors to fill the patrol roster.
As a new patrol member, your Patrol captain will team you up with a mentor who will help you to settle into your new role, answer any questions and basically be your role model in that first year.
There will be opportunities for further training within your lifeguard role e.g. further first aid training, IRB crew person and operation training, further radio skills and further lifeguard qualifications, for example senior guard school.
Because there is no junior surf training available now for your age group, you are expected to attend the training sessions for your particular discipline e.g. board trainings on particular nights if you are a board paddler, sprint training on particular days if you are a land crab and general fitness sessions e.g. swimming, kick boxing as you see necessary. Talk to the club coach if you have any questions and they will point you in the right direction and get you into the right group.
Coaching courses are also available.
This is often a time where you start to appreciate all the time and effort that has been put into you by different surf club members and realise that you are now able to give something back to your club by patrolling and helping coach the juniors.
Becoming a senior and a lifeguard is an exciting and challenging move up from Junior Surf. You have more responsibilities and more is expected of you, but it remains a wonderful time for friendships and collaboration.
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