Lifesaving policemen issue beach warning

Lorne police officers Mick Atkinson and Russell Harrup want beachgoers to be mindful of the dangers of swimming at surf beaches and to keep an eye on all people in the ocean.

Lorne police officers are encouraging beachgoers to familiarise themselves with surf beaches or swim between the flags to prevent further drownings this summer.

The mercury is set to reach more than 30 degrees Celsius today in Colac and continue to rise before hitting an expected forecast of 39 degrees on Friday.

Royal Life Saving figures show that from the start of summer to Monday, 40 people had died in Australia from drowning, with 29 of those deaths at coastal swimming locations including the death of a 41-year-old Sydenham father at Skenes Creek just before Christmas.

Lorne’s Senior Constable Russell Harrup and Leading Senior Constable Mick Atkinson attended two separate rescues at an unpatrolled beach at Cumberland River this summer.

The two police officers, who have more than 40 years’ policing experience between them, said the recent “spate” of rescues was uncommon, but the number of rescues was not.

Sen Const Atkinson said there was “no heroics” involved in his actions and those of Sen Const Harrup and Lorne Sergeant David Cooper, who received national recognition for his actions after he saved a 12-year-old-boy in 2013, whose father died while trying to save the boy.

“It’s either just fortuitous that we’ve been able to get there when we had or been there at the time,” Sen Const Atkinson said.

“We’ve all grown up surfing or swimming in the ocean, so we’ve never put ourselves at any risk, we’ve just been there and thought this needs to be done and gone and done it.

“I’m sure there are a lot of people that are police, off-duty ambos, or the local plumber who has done it plenty of times around Australia.

“There are people doing these sorts of things that don’t get recorded or reported, they are at the beach, they are confident, they see someone in trouble, they swim over and they give them a hand in.”

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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