On Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October, the Branch embarked on a crucial initiative to enhance water safety and emergency response capabilities with the Silver Medallion Aquatic Rescue (SMAR) course held at Urunga. We had eight enthusiastic participants. The primary aim of this comprehensive two-day program was to equip participants with the skills and knowledge required to actively contribute to search and rescue operations. The course covered a range of topics, from basic navigational techniques to specialist rock rescue procedures and even a challenging night search and rescue operation on land.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes
The SMAR course at Urunga was meticulously designed to address specific learning outcomes, ensuring that participants acquired a diverse skill set for effective search and rescue operations. The key objectives included:

Contribution to Preparation Activities
Interpret task information.
Use basic navigational techniques.
Select appropriate search and rescue equipment.

Search and Rescue Execution
Perform search and rescue of a missing person.
Identify hazards and minimize risks.
Select appropriate personal protective equipment.
Communicate incident details effectively.
Demonstrate advanced water entry techniques.
Describe search patterns.
Operate as a member of a search team.
Perform retrieval of a submerged object at a depth of 3–5 m below the surface.
Participate in a night search operation.
Recovery and Stand-Down Procedures:

Complete operational documentation.
Perform equipment recovery, cleaning, and maintenance in line with organizational procedures.
Describe symptoms of operational stress and identify sources of support.
Community Engagement and Collaboration:

The course not only provided essential theoretical knowledge but also focussed on practical applications, emphasizing hands-on experiences. Participants engaged in simulated search and rescue scenarios, allowing them to apply their newfound skills in a controlled setting. This practical approach aimed to instil confidence in participants and prepare them for real-life emergencies.

The night search and rescue operation on land added an extra layer of challenge, requiring participants to utilize their training in diverse and dynamic environments. This component of the course highlighted the importance of adaptability and effective communication during nocturnal operations.

Upon successful completion of the SMAR course, participants received the coveted Silver Medallion, a testament to their commitment to water safety and emergency response. Beyond individual recognition, the Surf Life Saving community, and  most importantly the North Coast Branch  now benefits from a group of skilled individuals capable of actively contributing to search and rescue operations, fostering a safer and more resilient community.

The Silver Medallion Aquatic Rescue course held at Urunga was more than just a training program. It was a collective effort to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for effective search and rescue operations. As the participants return to their respective clubs, they bring not only a medal but a heightened sense of responsibility and capability to ensure the safety of water activities. The success of this initiative reinforces the significance of proactive education and community engagement in building resilient and prepared surf lifesavers.

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