Ella Sims driving an inflatable boat at Riversdale Beach. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
National school ‘cream of the crop’
After six years patrolling Riversdale Beach, a Wairarapa lifeguard has been picked to attend a crash-course in some of the most difficult emergency situations she will ever face.
Riversdale Surf Lifesaving Club’s Ella Sims was one of 20 surf lifesavers picked from a group of 46 applicants to attend this season’s National Lifeguard School.
Sims will be based at New Plymouth’s Fitzroy Beach from December 7-9, learning about mass rescue situations, helicopter operations and running through other high-pressure scenarios.
She will also be taught how to work effectively with NZ Police, Fire and Emergency, and St John in technical rescues.
Should she pass the physical and mental challenges the school will throw at her, Sims will emerge with the Advanced Lifeguard Award, the highest lifeguarding qualification in the country.
The 19-year-old said gaining the award would give her the confidence to take on her new role at Riversdale as junior club captain.
“It’ll teach me how to deal with all situations and how to guide the other lifeguards through anything.
“My older brother also attended the school, and he told me it was an opportunity I could not miss.”
For Sims, one of the best parts of lifeguarding has been training the next generation of lifesavers.
“I’ve been a Nipper coach for five years and head Nipper coach last year. That was probably my favourite part of lifeguarding.
“It was really rewarding helping and watching the kids become more confident and skilled in and out of the water.”
However, she’s had to let go the coaching this year because of her responsibilities as junior club captain, which will have her taking a senior role within the club.
She’ll be leading morning trainings, and meeting the club’s committee.
Despite the fact she’ll spend almost every day this summer patrolling the beach, Sims said it never gets boring.
“I really like being part of the club. Driving boats is fun and I just enjoy being out there on the beach.
“There’s not a lot else to do – when I have a day off I get bored.”
Surf Life Saving New Zealand national education manager Belinda Slement said that the lifeguards selected to attend the national school were the “cream of the crop”.
“They’re already out there saving lives on our beaches before they reach this school, but going to this level will ultimately make their local beaches a lot safer.”
Slement said the school’s instructors would be experts, able to guide the attendees through examples from actual rescues.
“This is the super-elite of our training, and remember that they’re all volunteers, which is just incredible.
“We are so thankful to have such a passionate group of people who dedicate their own time to helping others.”