Muswellbrook High School students learn lifesaving techniques

CAN you enter the water using a safety step? If you need to rescue someone are you capable?

Chances are, if you’re in trouble in the water, a student from Muswellbrook High School will know exactly how to save you.

This week, about 150 students in Years 8, 9 and 10 are spending three days at the pool gaining lifesaving training encompassing water safety levels one to seven and Lifesaving Australia Bronze Star, Medallion and Cross.

And, it’s a group of 18 Year 10 students, most with bronze medallions, leading the way and giving most of the instruction.

But for supervising teacher, Leanne Duck, a lifesaver from way back, it’s disappointing that some pupils haven’t turned up. 

“I don’t think some parents understand the importance of water safety skills,” Ms Duck said.

“This year there have been more fatalities in inland waterways.

“Usually, country kids have trouble when they go to the ocean because of inexperience with surf and rips but this year the inland waterways have been claiming our children.” 

According to The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report, 23 per cent of the 291 Australian drowning deaths in the past year occurred in rivers, creeks and streams with males making up 74 per cent of all deaths.

“Swimming and life saving are essential skills,” Ms Duck said.

“It’s actually really surprising how many high school kids aren’t confident in the water but by the end of the day most of them are in and floating or swimming.”

Muswellbrook High School has coordinated the lifesaving program for more than 20 years and caters for all levels of ability.

There is also a dry rescue training option for those who can’t get in the water due to ear or chest infections.

“You can see the students’ confidence and self-esteem increase as the day progresses,” Ms Duck explained.

She said kids teaching kids made the learning more personable but she was still happy to get in the water to demonstrate rescue styles and techniques.  

And if you need to use a safety step – keep your chin up and out, lean forwards, push down on the water with your hands as you step in – all so that you don’t lose eye contact with the person you’re trying to rescue, particularly in murky water.