Following last week's note from Iljko, our Club Captain informing our members of the numerous rescues carried out on Christmas Day we received the following note from one of our committed Club Members/Patroller Emma Finnerty:
Reading the supportive and kind words from our Club Captain in our newsletter last week, and SLSA President Graham Ford on Twitter, both thanking our patrollers for their commitment over the Christmas period, I noticed that - nice as recognition is - I am yet to come across a 'clubbie' who places it high on their list of reasons they volunteer their time. (I have been lucky enough to patrol with lifesavers at Bronte, Bondi, Tamarama, Broulee, Avalon, Garie, Coogee, Mooloolaba, Kirra and Bungan beaches). It is so lovely to be part of an organisation where thanks is forthcoming, where team work is so valued, and also where you see patrollers consistently and modestly redirecting the ‘glory’ that comes from a job well done. (Case in point at Bronte being, talking with Ed, Fergo and James after their conveyer belt of 66 rescues on Christmas Day, they each brushed any talk of thanks aside in their rush to praise the indispensable efforts of the others!).
Yet, recognition is important - the work of lifesavers on our beaches over Summer is commendable and it is brave. Bravery is distinct from courage, or even simply saving lives – for if this was the case there would be recognition for bravery made on a daily basis to both daredevils and to Doctors. A lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University, Patrick Stokes, describes bravery awards as something we give “in the aftermath of crises where the value and meaning of human life has nearly been obliterated by the absurdity of senseless, arbitrary destruction….we reward those who hold that threat back, who in risking their own lives testify to the depth of the ways in which we value each other and thereby keep the moral sphere from coming apart. In chaotic moments that threaten to engulf us in meaninglessness, those who perform such acts keep the fabric of our moral universe temporarily intact”.
This explanation resonates, I think, with our work as lifesavers. As lifesavers we are attempting to control, to manage and constrain the hazards inherent in the unpredictable forces of nature at play on our beaches. The beach is where people come to relax and play and unfortunately, all too frequently to switch off from the ongoing calculations of risk and danger that should inform our daily decision making processes. Lifesavers step in to fill this breach, to shepherd, corral, educate, and to act. While few amongst us would look to classify the work we do in the grandiose terms above, and while even fewer amongst us are driven to do our duty in a search for recognition, I think it is worth reflecting on the important service we provide and taking a moment to be proud of the important and brave work we do
and to keep up the good work thanking each other.
Emma Finnerty Patrol 10