Vital service with an unbeatable view
BRENDA Warren has been volunteering at Currumbin Marine Rescue since 1986.
In that time she and her colleagues have been the eyes, communication link and trained hands to help numerous boaties who have found themselves in trouble, or simply run out of fuel.
And, as she says, it's not a bad office view!
Based at Currumbin Creek, VMR services between Point Danger on the NSW border and the Southport Spit, including the at-times dangerous Currumbin and Tallebudgera Bar entrances.
Formed in 1975 as Air Sea Rescue Currumbin, there are currently about 45 volunteers working as rescue boat crew and radio operators like Brenda, many of whom are retirees.
But more are needed, as well as extra hands in fundraising (including, of course, those Bunnings sausage sizzles), administration, and general upkeep and repairs.
Brenda said radio operators worked one shift a week, from 5am-8.30am or 8.30am-12.30pm.
They provide a daily listening watch on all emergency marine radio frequencies between those hours as well as the boat crew's 24/7 emergency response if required.
Brenda said it was a concern that although fishermen and boat operators should log the name of their boat, number of people on board and estimated time of return with the VMR, they are increasingly failing to do so.
Volunteers mark down the boats they see going out and in, but if something happens and a boat does go missing, not having all the relevant information adds to the risk.
On the morning we visited, 23 boats had been recorded, but that number varies greatly with conditions and fishing.
In their spare moments, the radio operators also have a small list of elderly people registered through St John Ambulance's Silver Cord service to call daily, to ensure they are okay.
Brenda said she was aware of a couple of occasions when the call had literally been a life-saver, with the volunteer able to alert Silver Cord that there was no answer, so a neighbour could check on that person.
Anyone interested in volunteering completes a radio course or, in the case of boat crew, has ongoing boat, rescue and first aid training.
If you would like to get involved, phone 5534 1526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about the Silver Cord service, phone St John Ambulance on 1300 785 646.