AN all-female patrol on Valentine’s Day, Sunday 14 February will – for the first time – protect swimmers at Gunnamatta surf beach.
The “Pink Patrol” – part of the celebrations for the lifesaving club’s 50th year – recognises women and their contribution to lifesaving.
Patrol captain Jill Douglas will lead the team on the day. She’s proud to be part of a “first” in the club’s history.
“I’m really looking forward to Valentine’s Day,” the chief instructor said. “We have some very experienced and dedicated girls who can’t wait to team up and show a bit of ‘girl power’.
“It is a day of love and we are all out here doing what we love: the beach, the surf and keeping them safe.
“Gunn [Gunnamatta] has a proud history in surf lifesaving: our club has won the state patrol efficiency award more than any other club, and we perform about a third of Victoria’s rescues each year.
“All beaches and waterways have their dangers. Gunn has its own but we make sure we set patrols up in the safest possible area and we monitor it carefully.
“It’s an honour to lead this patrol in our 50th birthday year.”
Gunnamatta SLSC Club captain Patrick Murphy said the capability of the Pink Patrol were impressive. “Collectively its members hold all of SLSA’s awards and qualifications as well as being powerful surf swimmers and rescue board paddlers,” he said.
Women and girls were permitted to join Surf Life Saving Australia as active members in 1980. Gunnamatta had two female lifesavers from the very first days and this quickly grew over the following summers.
Now, 40 of Gunnamatta’s 100 active members are female, ranging in age from 13 to over 50. They hold positions such as chief instructor, patrol captain and rescue boat drivers – some of the most senior roles in the club.
Mr Murphy said the female patrol’s message was: “If we can see you, we can save you.”