SWIM SAFETY MESSAGE: Queensland Ambulance Service Burnett Coast Station Acting Officer In Charge Steve Smith is urging parents and care takers to keep a close eye on children when they're in the water this summer.
SWIM SAFETY MESSAGE: Queensland Ambulance Service Burnett Coast Station Acting Officer In Charge Steve Smith is urging parents and care takers to keep a close eye on children when they're in the water this summer.

REVEALED: Region’s shocking number of drownings, close calls

WHETHER you are in an inch of water, a swimming pool or taking a dip in the ocean, water safety is paramount.

The amount of drownings/near drowning incidents across the Wide Bay in recent years is surprisingly high, with the Queensland Ambulance Service recording 31 cases for the past 12 months alone.

The number of drownings/near drownings incidents for 2016 in the Wide Bay was 27; while in 2017 there was 29 incidents, 24 incidents in 2018, 29 incidents last year and 22 this year.

QAS Burnett Coast Station Acting Officer In Charge Steve Smith said when children were in the water constant adult supervision was mandatory.

He said the biggest problem with children in the water was that “they don’t make a sound when they start to drown”.

“They’re not like an adult where they’ll scream out and all that sort of stuff … they will just drown with no one even knowing that they’ve done so,” he said.

As Christmas approaches and children receive new toys they might be unfamiliar with, it’s a timely reminder for everyone to dive into water safety.

Mr Smith said if there was an adult, who could swim, constantly watching over those in the water, there’s a chance that they could save some kids.

Early intervention, first aid and CPR, were also key measures parents and caregivers should become familiar with.

“I think it’s important that adults, particular if they’re going to be supervising children, know how to do CPR and have done a recent CPR course, keep their training up-to-date,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said while a lot of country kids swim in dams, pools can be just as dangerous.

“I think we take pools for granted, it’s clear, it’s nice clean water … but they are just as dangerous,” he said.

“Adults, whoever’s supervising, needs to be vigilant the whole time, they don’t take their eyes off the kid, they’ve got to be watching them all the time.”

He said paramedics were called to all types of waterways and when people are swimming in rivers and creeks, they don’t know what obstacles are in the water.

Mr Smith said when the call for this type of incident comes in, their training kicks in and at the scene they first look for any potential hazards.

“Safety is paramount for us,” he said.

“When we get there we’re dealing with the patient and we’re also dealing with the families and any bystanders.

“We have to be very cool, calm and collected and do our job.”

Mr Smith said he didn’t understand why there were so many drownings at patrolled beaches.

“I think a lot of it is people think ‘I’m not going to swim at the patrolled beach because everyone’s there, so we’re going to go to a secluded areas and swim.

“And then get in trouble.”

Mr Smith urged adults not to swim if they are drinking.

“It’s a recipe for disaster, it really is,” he said.

With the holiday season quickly approaching and people out on the water in boats and jetskis, it’s paramount that you have the right safety equipment on-board.

“Children should be wearing a lifejacket regardless of whether the water is 2ft deep or a 100ft deep; and quite frankly everyone should be wearing it if their going out offshore,” he said.

Mr Smith said enrolling children in swimming lessons was another key step to increasing water safety.

Bundaberg local and new mum, Ally is eager to enrol her son Huxley Bennett into swimming lesson’s as soon as possible.

MAKING A SPLASH: Bundaberg local and new mum, Ally said her son Huxley Bennett enjoying their trip to the pool.
MAKING A SPLASH: Bundaberg local and new mum, Ally said her son Huxley Bennett enjoying their trip to the pool.

Ally said she couldn’t wait for him to be able to swim, because their family was always outdoors and going on adventures.

“Getting in the water is the best part so knowing he can swim will take the stress away and we can all just enjoy what ever it may be that we are doing,” she said.

“I learnt to swim very young so I don’t remember anything of learning the survival skills but I do remember having extra swimming lessons at Bundaberg Swimming Academy to perfect my strokes to be a better swimmer and watching my little sisters learn how to swim with their teachers.”

Ally said she had plenty of fun memories enjoying the water with her sisters; spending hours in their pool playing games and learning new tricks.

“Living on a farm, rainy days and mud fights would always lead to swimming in the dam and most afternoons we would take the quad bike or our horses down to the river exploring and swimming.

“Some afternoons it would just be my horse and I, it was so magical.

“Something I’ll never forget.”

With a love for swimming and how great it was for fitness, she said throughout her pregnancy she would go down to Norville Park pool to do laps.

Having recently moved from Bundaberg to Longreach, she said her new home had great swimming facilities and they had already been in to get Huxley used to the water.

If you would like to book a first aid training session, click here or call 13 QGOV (13 7468).

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