In response to repeated drowning at popular Sydney resorts, surf lifesaving originated in Australia in 1906. Volunteers were trained in the lifeguarding techniques of the time.
Bondi Bathers Surf Lifesaving Club is considered to be the world’s first surf lifesaving club and in February 6th 1938 along with North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, participated in the largest recorded rescue in one day, also known as “Black Sunday.” Five people drowned and a further 250 persons were in need of assistance.
Australian lifesavers are renowned for inventing many of the surf lifesaving aids still in use today; none more famous than the surf lifesaving reel and the inflatable rescue boat.
In the UK, surf lifesavers are typically volunteers from all walks of life, age and gender. Some club members are employed by local authorities to provide regular safety cover over the summer months, and clubs will often supplement that cover with regular member patrols, particularly at off peak times and weekends.
In many areas of the UK, the RNLI have now taken over responsibility for water safety on behalf of local authorities, making it easier to liaise with other emergency services such as the Lifeboat Service, Air Sea Rescue and the Coastguard Agency.