From Surfing to Rescue – South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
BEING a volunteer lifeguard has become a way of life for Scott Johnson of the Venus Bay Surf Life Saving Club.
“I am from South Australia so I got my bronze medal on January 23, 1988 at Chiton Rocks SLSC where I have been president, club captain and treasurer and am a life member,” explained Scott.
“I moved to Victoria in 2004 and have been at Venus Bay SLSC ever since.”
Scott’s involvement in surf rescue grew out of surfing.
“In the 1980s most members of Chiton Rocks were surfers, including founding member, the legendary Jimmy Miller, as the club has a dormitory that allowed weekend surfing outings from Adelaide.”
From Chiton to Venus Bay and even North Steyne SLSC, when he lived in Sydney for a year, rescue offered an array of opportunities for Scott, including his new role on the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) team ).
“Becoming a member of the RPAS team has been a ripple effect of COVID-19 and the lockdowns.
“Being locked down and working from home, I was watching a lot of YouTube videos.
“I’ve always had an interest in drone photography, but once we were allowed out of the house I started doing a bit of nature photography.
“Then at the start of 2021 I bought myself a small drone and toyed with the idea of whether it was something I could get involved with as part of the RPAS team at LSV.
“There’s a bit of science and math involved, but sticking with it, I was accepted into the RPAS team as a casual and when the RPAS base east of LSV at Venus Bay was opened, I volunteered to run the base.
“A ‘normal’ day is ideally quite boring as it means no one is in trouble, but even then there are still safety and equipment checks to be done, and if not there are no chores, we try to visit the local clubs, say hello and show them what we do.
“It’s as if the police are on patrol and waiting until something happens, but when it does they spring into action very quickly.
“Most of our missions concern missing persons. For example, in January we had someone who had been in the water overnight and hadn’t been seen, so we loaded up the car and drove to the scene, liaised with LSV and VicPol on the beach, then we got to work with the other resources and coordinators for a search and rescue effort.
“Being part of the RPAS team is living my fantasy and not only allowed me to learn about drones, but also strengthened my people management skills.
“I thought it would be a good way for me to extend my career as a lifeguard once my ability to do beach patrols was over.
“I’m still Patrol Captain on the Geri Patrol at Venus Bay SLSC, so hopefully it won’t be too soon.”
For Scott, volunteering is about helping others and meeting people.
“It’s good to interact with others, especially young people.
“My teenagers aren’t involved in rescue, but I meet many who are, I love seeing their potential as rescuers and that of the whole mix of interesting people involved.
“We take safety seriously, but being a volunteer lifeguard is always fun with the relationships and friendships you make while doing something valuable for the community.”