The Bondi Rescue team were invited by the Swedish Lifeguard Team to go along with them while they did some training with the guys from Swedish helicopter search and rescue. The conditions were quite testing with howling winds from the South, 14 degree water and rough swells. Both Lifeguard teams had an opportunity to be lifted out of the water, in the process gaining valuable experience in deep sea ocean rescue.
The Bondi crew did some Jet Ski training with the Swedish search and rescue crew. The Swedish have their own purpose built Jet Ski (Rescue Runner) designed by their team in Stockholm. The whole Jet Ski is two pieces, the engine and the hull. The hull has three separate air chambers so in the case of a rescue on rocks and the hull is damaged, it will still float. The hull can be replaced at a very low cost. All the Bondi Rescue guys got to have a ride and test the Jet Ski, which they all enjoyed.
The Bondi Rescue team then set off for Tofta beach on Gotland Island, where they spent the week learning from and training with the volunteer lifeguards from the Swedish Lifeguard Association. Gotland is a smallish island just to the east of Sweden. From Stockholm it takes about one hour by bus, followed by a three hour boat ride on a large vessel. The views from the ship were amazing, especially as they came into dock at Visby, Gotland's main city.
"The nippers here come from all around and just froth on the water. We got involved while they went through warm ups and tug of war, versus us (we lost) then the group split in 2 with the younger grommets doing some obstacle courses on the sand and the older kids hitting the waves on boards. Hang on, what waves you say? There were some whipped up by strong winds out at sea, apparently there is a surf break just around the point called "Guest list rights". There are pictures of it, 4 - 6ft and firing, at the local surf shop. Considering they don't get waves consistently the kids handled the boards really well and revelled in the fun conditions. We wrapped things by branding them with Bondi Lenny the lifeguard tattoos, they were all smiles" - Andrew Reid from Bondi Rescue
Prior to their Baltic adventure, the Bondi Rescue team headed to Saunton Sands Beach where they met with the crew from the surf lifesaving club to check out the junior lifeguard program that had recently started running. The kids were fantastic. They also checked out all of the surf lifesaving action and handed out some medals for the Atlantic Watersports Games. The competition was super fierce and there were many close races, which was very exciting to watch. Once the real athletes finished up the Bondi team had their own little board rescue race using some of the junior nippers as patients. The lovely crew made everyone from Australia feel welcome at Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving Club.
Bondi Rescue caught up with the crew at from St Ives Surf School in Cornwell on the British coast. The lifeguards in St Lives give up their time every Saturday morning for two hours to take all the local kids surfing. All of them love the fact that the kids get the opportunity to surf and want everyone to be as happy surfing as they are. The lifeguards in St Ives start at the grass roots of their community. It is such a great display of local community spirit.
Now i know what you're thinking "Reidy, isn't the water cold?" Well my answer to that is "yes, although not as cold as I expected." The friendly guys from St Ives surf school kindly lent us all 5mm of insulating rubber (very thick wetsuit) so the cold wasn't a problem at all. There were a couple of different groups ranging from beginners through to advanced. We started out just pushing them onto waves, then towards the end we regrouped and they had to go through their levels which included trying to complete certain manoeuvres such as push ups or an aeroplane. It was such a wonderful experience. I'm not sure who was having more fun, us or the kids. Big thanks to Jamie and the crew from St Ives surf school for letting us tag along" - Andrew Reid from Bondi Rescue
Before heading to Sweden, the Bondi Rescue boys ventured down early to say hello to the beach Lifeguards in Barcelona, who work for the Red Cross. In total they cover a little over 4km of beaches and have about 70 lifeguards who are employed for about eight months of the year. The Bondi team were surprised to find out they average about seven resuscitations a season. After spending a week there and seeing the masses of people that flock to their beaches every day, it is just a matter of percentages and made more sense.