Nelson Bays Police are wising up on water safety in preparation for the busy summer holidays.

Staff at Stoke Police Station are training with newly acquired water safety kits which include a rescue throw-rope and self-inflating personal floatation device.

They are now available in all road policing vehicles, frontline vehicles and rural stations in Nelson Bays.

The initiative was kicked off by Sergeant Mal York, Officer in Command of Nelson Bays SAR, who has first-hand experience with water rescues and evacuations, including during Cyclone Gita.

“In Cyclone Gita, we had officers all over responding to people at risk from flood waters, some officers had to wade through the water with no flotation device,” says Sergeant York.

“Around two years ago we got lifejackets and throw bags in a single car. Water rescues happen really fast – Gita showed us that, in an area like Nelson, we need the equipment in all our frontline cars.

“There’s a lot of water in Nelson. We’re always responding to riverbank incidents or ocean rescues so it’s good to have a floatation device.”

Constable Ben Wallbank tries on a PDF for size

The training sessions are run by Sergeant York, a former raft guide, using videos provided by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

“The initial response has been good and officers have enjoyed it,” he says.

“This is a level of training in water safety equipment we haven’t had before, but it’s important to stress that Police are not qualified water rescuers.

“This gear is for use around water, not in it. It gives officers some protection should they fall in.”

Police offers the following advice for having fun and staying safe around our waterways and beaches this summer:

  • Be prepared – know how to swim confidently.
  • Wear a lifejacket when out on the water.
  • Be aware of hazards – obey warning signs and do not enter the water after drinking.
  • Know your limits – if in doubt, stay out!