Western Leader : December 2nd 2011
2011 The Coca-Cola Company. 'Coca-Cola' is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company. 'Christmas in the Park' is a registered trademark of Coca-Cola Amatil. www.aucklandnow.co.nz Friday, December 2, 2011 Lifeguards in deep water Getting frustrated: Lifeguards Andy Shaw and Emily Munro beside the Karekare lagoon, which is especially difficult to cross when weighed down with surf life saving equipment. Photo: NICOLA MURPHY By NICOLA MURPHY Visit www.westernleader. co.nz to see Mr Shaw explain how the lagoon affects life saving at Karekare. SURF life saving at Karekare has always been a labour of love but now a deepening lagoon is making it more difficult to perform. The lagoon that separates the lifeguards' clubhouse from the carpark is a metre deep because of sand build-up. Getting through is difficult even for 4WD vehicles. Members need to wade across or go through the 1km Pohutukawa Glade Track, adding extra minutes in after-hours emerg- encies. They fear the delays could result in a drowning if nothing is done. Spokesman Andy Shaw says the club is working with Auckland Council to come up with a short- term solution because the life saving season is already well under way. This current situation is making it harder to patrol and in particular provide after-hours emergency res- cue responses. We can expect delays in excess of 15 to 20 minutes caused by the access issues and in life-saving terms those minutes could mean an unnecessary death,'' he says. Before it may have been a ques- tion of convenience. Now it's a necessity.'' Mr Shaw says lifeguards on the beach are sometimes the only form of help in an emergency if the West- pac Rescue Helicopter is unavail- able. And if we need an ambulance it has to stop in the carpark which is a major issue.'' Public access is also restricted. I've had grandparents tell me they can't bring their kids here because it's too difficult to get to the beach,'' Mr Shaw says. The council explored the option of excavating a channel along the for- mer stream base to release the water but decided against it. Regional and specialist parks manager Mace Ward says it had to apply for notified consent, creating delays which meant work would not be completed in time for the holiday season. We've had a clear message from the people of Karekare that's not their preferred option and they need to be properly notified before we do anything,'' he says. Mr Ward says the council is now looking at other ideas, such as improving access through the glade track which could be done in time for the busy summer period over December and January. Our focus is on life-saving at Karekare but we need to do it in a way that meets everyone's needs,'' he says. We're balancing the operational needs of the club and the welfare of the community with protecting the local environment.'' Waitakere Ranges Protection Society president John Edgar says it's important for the club to be able to operate but hopes a solution can be found without modifying the beach environment. There are other options for access such as getting a 4WD trac- tor that can tow a trailer across the deep water,'' Mr Edgar says. Karekare lifeguards performed eight rescues in the last surf life saving season. They provided first aid 22 times, carried out five searches and conducted more than 3700 safety interventions.
December 1st 2011
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