AN incredible rescue at Venus Bay Number 1 beach, that would certainly have resulted in two deaths, if not three, on Friday, December 4 will be the subject of a high-level bravery nomination for the ‘hero’ of the day, Dave Cumming.
A man with 35 years’ experience as a surf lifesaver, the local electrician just happened to be having his lunch at the beach that day when he noticed four people enter the water and immediately get washed out in a rip.
“We’ve got some severe rips down there at the moment and, if nothing else, this should act as a warning to everyone visiting the beach, to only swim between the flags,” said Venus Bay SLSC President Craig Watson.
With no patrols on the beach, being a Friday before the start of the holiday season, Cumming went to the Venus Bay clubrooms and took out a rescue board and immediately went into rescue mode.
One of the people managed to get to the beach themselves but two were already in severe difficulty and another in trouble.
Cumming got three people to the beach and had to commence CRP on one of them, continuing until local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), air ambulance and Ambulance Victoria arrived.
“One of the people was airlifted to Melbourne in a critical condition and another was taken to Wonthaggi by road ambulance suffering shock and hyperthermia.
“In our opinion, two possible three people could have drowned and it was only the quick thinking and rescue experience of Dave that stopped a certain tragedy from happening.”
Mr Watson said Dave and the club had already received a commendation from the Mayor of South Gippsland Shire and he would be nominated for a Surf Lifesaving Victoria and external bravery award.
“It’s just an example of why Venus Bay is listed as one of the three most dangerous beaches in Victoria.
“The message is simply, don’t swim at the beach if there aren’t lifeguards or surf club patrols in action.”
The professional lifeguard service operates on weekdays between Christmas and the Australia Day weekend. Weekend patrols by Venus Bay SLSC started on November 28 and continue until Australia Day weekend.
“We’ve just had 20 people go through out Bronze Camp and qualify, many of them new recruits for our patrols.”
New jet ski
Also during the week last week, the Venus Bay Surf Lifesaving Club received a $2000 Community Grant from the South Gippsland Shire towards the cost of a new jet ski for the group, to improve rescue response and training.
They are also committed to raising awareness of the summer campaign ‘Swimming between the Flags’.
There has never been a recorded drowning in Victoria between patrolled flags. Last year, a tragic drowning occurred at Venus Bay Number 5 Beach whilst Number 1 Beach was being patrolled. This tragedy could have been avoided if the swimmer was swimming between the flags at Number 1 Beach.
The single most important role of the Venus Bay Surf Life Saving club is to provide a safe swimming environment for users of Beach 1 during designated patrol periods.
If they are able to raise awareness for users of the beach to ‘swim between the flags’ they are absolutely convinced they will quite simply save more lives.
To raise awareness for beach users to swim between the flags, the club’s very own English Channel conqueror Paul Hoffman and colleagues Mike Gregory and Steve Klugman swam the 40km from Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance, on November 28, with the entire swim taking place between patrol flags!
Sponsorship of the event assisted in raising funds to help purchase the jet ski to which the shire’s $2000 grant will also be committed.