Swimming in black-out goggles that mirror the murky depths of dams or local waterways was part of a still water survival course undertaken by members of the Gin Gin Emergency Services Cadet unit this week.
Emergency Services Cadets facilitator and Training officer with the Tirroan Rural Fire Brigade Charlie Garwood said the program was aimed at providing the cadets with still water survival skills.
“Many of the cadets, aged between 12 and 17 years, live locally on rural properties where there are dams or creeks. It is quite surprising the number of kids in this age bracket who cannot swim,” he said.
“While we are providing instruction on how to preserve their own lives through instruction from the Swim Academy professionals, we are also showing them how to react if required to participate in a water-based rescue.
Fresh water swimming more challenging
“Swimming in fresh water is completely different to ocean swimming where buoyancy assists the swimmer. Getting in and out of a dam can be more challenging than getting out of the ocean.
“They are being taught how to use equipment be it empty plastic bottles or buckets to aid in a rescue but also ensuring they perform that task safely and do not find themselves pulled into the water during the rescue attempt,” Charlie said.
Three instructors from Bundaberg Swim Academy participated in the training activities that involved swimming in black-out goggles, the scenario of throwing a flotation device to someone in distress and swimming in a life jacket.
Academy owner Michele Watson said that on many occasions children can be seen in boats with their life jackets on but had never experienced the use of those jackets in the water.
“It’s important they do familiarise themselves with a life jacket and what it feels like to swim while wearing one,” she said.
Safety of cadets is vital
Charlie said the safety of the cadets was a vital part of their training and a precursor to a swift water rescue course to be held at a later date.
“One of the great lessons all the cadets are learning is not to panic but to undertake some simple procedures if you do get into difficulty in the water.
“The unit number is currently at capacity at 26 and we do have young people on a waiting list to join,” he said.
The unit was formed in October 2019 and has continued to attract great support from the district youth.
“There is a strong bond of friendship and camaraderie among the unit members and this is showing through in the training and drills we undertake,” he said.
“Currently the unit is polishing its marching abilities to participate in the forthcoming Gin Gin Anzac Day parade and commemoration.
“We also have the upcoming Emergency Services Cadets Games to be held in Biggenden in June. The games will attract units from Gin Gin, Childers, Biggenden, Hervey Bay and Nanango,” Charlie said.
“The format involves each unit providing one activity, usually based on a skill, to formulate the program for the Games.”
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