Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Heroics proof patrols needed

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Amy Wiggins.
Amy Wiggins.

In the three and a half years I've worked at the Bay of Plenty Times I've written and read countless tales of surfers who have saved swimmers from drowning.

Every summer we report on a handful of such cases - and those are only the few we hear about.

Read more: Surfers save drowning couple at Mount

Surfer Katie Cox and her husband Geoff are the latest example of local surfers who did not hesitate to help when they saw people in trouble.

Mrs Cox puts it well: "I'm comfortable in the water, I surf all the time and it's no skin off my back to look out for someone who isn't. Accidents happen to anyone so we all have to look after each other."

I have no doubt there would be many more drownings if we did not have so many competent surfers and swimmers out in our waters. There are almost always surfers out who are more than happy to do their part to keep our beaches safe.

In yesterday's story, Mrs Cox also pointed out the need for permanent lifeguards at Tay St beach and more funding for lifeguards to allow that. I totally agree.

During the last couple of years lifeguards have been stationed at Tay St during the height of summer.

However, even now the beaches are packed during the week and at weekends and Tay St is a popular swimming spot.

It would be great to have the area patrolled more regularly. The Mount and Omanu clubs drive by to check the area every now and then but it's a long way from each club and it only takes a few seconds for someone to get into trouble and drown.

The problem is, as always, funding.

I'd love to see more Government or council funding for Surf Life Saving New Zealand to allow more patrols. But where is the money to come from? It has to be taken from other areas in order to be reallocated to lifeguards.

I can't see that happening any time soon unfortunately.

For the time being, at least, we all need to do our bit to help.

If you're a confident swimmer, keep an eye on others swimming around you.

And next time you see lifeguards on the side of the road shaking a bucket, reach into your pocket and give them a few dollars.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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