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Painful drowning tragedies we’re desperate to avoid



Five lives have been lost across the regions waterways this year, while 20 fatal drownings have taken place across the state in the past six months.In January this year, the region experienced two fatal drownings on the same day, further contributing to the highest drowning toll in 20 years.A 58-year-old man drowned in Anglesea on January 23 after his boat capsized, while at Thirteenth Beach, co-founder and chief executive of start-up accelerator Runway, Peter Dostis drowned after encountering difficulty among large surf.The 56-year-old was winched out of the water before CPR commenced back onshore, but was pronounced dead at the scene. The father of three was remembered as the “go to guy for budding entrepreneurs” with a genuine ability to connect with others. In October, more tragedy struck when Corio man Marty Rowe was and a friend hit rough conditions in a dinghy on Corio Bay. Their boat capsized, with Mr Rowe’s body found the next morning near Griffin Gully Pier, while his friend escaped to safety.The 45-year-old father of four was a member of the Western Beach Boat Club and was remembered as a man with an “irrepressible smile” who loved sailing.The mission to avoid such tragedies is why Life Saving Victoria has introduced new advanced technology as well as extended patrol hours.The drownings, recorded between January and October, follow a record breaking 2020-2021 season which saw the state’s highest drowning toll in 20 years with 61 deaths. New LSV data shows that from December 18-28 more than 6300 preventive actions were taken across beaches in Geelong, the Surf Coast and the Borough of Queenscliffe.A further two rescues were recorded and lifesavers treated 88 people with minor first air and two people who required major first treatment. State agency commander Kane Treloar said the figures were “relatively low” in line with lower than average beach attendances amid milder weather. Geelong region drowning statisticsBut, he said authorities were preparing for significant crows across beaches throughout the state over the New Year period. “Additional planning is underway for the hot weather over the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day period when we are expecting to be busy right across the state,” he said.“We’d like to remind people ahead of the warmer weather to rethink taking risks by the water this summer. “Be sure to postpone alcohol until after your aquatic activity, swim at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags where possible and always swim with a friend.”Life Saving Victoria general manager of health promotion and communications Dr Bernadette Matthews said a $1.32m funding boost for the state government has been used to acquire new state of the art technology. “Victoria experienced its worst drowning toll in over two decades last financial year, so LSV has taken measures to help keep you safe, such as extending our patrol season for the second year in a row and expanding our jet ski and aerial services across the state, including the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service,” she said.The advanced surveillance technology means LSV can now live stream footage captured by its drones directly into the state control centre, as well as automatically identify and monitor potential ocean hazards.The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service has also been expanded with additional flight hours and the installation of high-definition cameras on the search and rescue helicopter’s winch cable.“After two years in and out of Covid-19 lockdowns and away from the water, remember that your swimming skills and fitness levels may have changed,” Dr Matthews said.Dr Matthews said the best way to avoid tragedy this summer is to swim between the red and yellow flags at patrolled beaches, actively supervise children, always wear a lifejacket is boating or fishing and to remember that alcohol and drugs do not mix with water.“Alcohol and drugs were a contributing factor in almost a third of Victorian deaths in the past decade,” she said.“Victoria’s waterways can be hazardous enough with potential risks like strong currents, which combined with risky behaviour such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs before swimming or recreating on or around the water, can have fatal consequences.”The official lifesaving season began on November 27 across more than 60 patrolled locations.

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