Senior Lifeguard, Roger Young said they face a hectic task that often extended beyond the boundaries of the beach.
“Anyone that wants any attention will come here, I don’t know whether you’ve seen princess? He walks around with a pair of jeans, wears a pink skirt, nail polish, all that sort of stuff,” said Roger.
“They’re the sorts of things we have to deal with on a day to day basis at Surfers, cause people come down here cause they want attention.”
“We get skateboarders jumping off of stuff, cause they know there’s always a crowd around here, so it’s not just the stuff happening in the surf, but what we call beach management as well.”
The proximity of Surfers Paradise to pubs and clubs is also an issue, and one Roger said proved deadly two years ago.
“Not last Easter but the Easter before, a guy went out at 2am in the morning, they found his body the next day, but it’s just those silly things that often claim lives,” he said.
When asked how many lives he had saved, the lifeguard of four years said it was a difficult thing to measure, as they believe in a philosophy of prevention being better than a cure.
“I mean you could go in and drag a couple of foreigners out of waist deep water and realistically they need help, but you just don’t know whether they would have got swept out a bit further and not come back in.”
“So to say actually saving lives, I’ve only done one resuscitation, so you can probably say that’s counted as saving a life.”
“And Reece and I last summer pulled a girl in here with her eyes rolled back in her head, 14 year old girl, and she was gone. We didn’t have to resuscitate her, but if we hadn’t have been there, you know.”
“From helping people to saving people there is a big difference, so actually to saving lives there’s two that I can say we saved, but as for others you just don’t know.”
“Prevention is what it’s about, you look at our whole stats and they’re prevention stats on a monthly basis. Whether it’s putting danger signs out telling people you can’t swim here, or our PA announcements, that’s all about preventative action, because prevention is better than a cure so to speak.”
While it is obvious that there are some perks to the job, including their ‘office space’, Roger said that people often don’t understand the role of a lifeguard.
“A lot of people misinterpret our job, they see us standing on the beach on a summer’s day, it’s 32 degrees, they think it’s just all easy and go ‘you’ve got the best job in the world, you do nothing all day’ and you go ‘look mate do you want to take responsibility to look after these 400 people we’ve got in the water?” he said.
From Olympic gold medalists, to former professional surfers and of course those who started out as nippers, Roger said the best part of the job was the great mix of people you get to work with.
“We’ve got a good mix of lifeguards throughout the service and everyone does their bit … on the whole it’s a good job.”
“To be able to live on the coast, work on the coast and have a secure job on the coast, we’re all pretty lucky I think.”
So is it the best job in the world? I guess it depends on who you are and how you might deal with the stress of a life and death situation. For now at least I’m happy to say it’s the nicest ‘office’ interview I’ve ever done. Thanks to Peter, Glen, Roger and Rhys and keep up the good work.
Gold Coast lifeguards patrol 26 beaches year-round and 42 beaches during the holiday season.
The first professional lifeguard was employed in 1935 at Main Beach by the City Council.
The Chief Lifeguard, Warren Young was appointed in 1975 and has held the position for 33 years.
The Lifeguard Service was the first in Australia to adopt a formal surveillance 'tower plan' along the coastal strip, initiated in 1989.
The Service pioneered the use of jet skis in Australia and were the first lifeguard service to have staff trained in the use of defibrillators.