Patrollers rewarded for dedication

12:00a.m. 25 May 2008
| By Peter Gardiner

You might only see them fleetingly as a jet boat or a wave runner rescue water craft sweeps by the beach.
And quite a few are never seen so much as only heard by the red and yellow capped lifesavers on patrol who rely on them to communicate in emergency situations.
There are almost 100 of them who, apart from countless hours of normal lifesaver duties, do the extra hard yards in lifesaving support operations.
Sixteen of these special over-achievers were officially recognised yesterday at Marcoola Surf Life Saving Club for working extra volunteer shifts in Surf Command, out on the water patrolling away from the club patrols, acting as duty officers and even going on 24-hour call-out.
One of them was Dicky Beach club captain Graham Sharry, who has gained a wealth of life experience and personal satisfaction from continually going above and beyond.
His name tag yesterday came with the title of ODDU, or Off Duty Duty Officer – he radioed in once in a life and death situation with that call sign and it has stuck.
An eight-year SLSC veteran, Graham was named the rescue water craft area 12 top crew person for his work in patrolling down to Bribie and back up the coastline. He was one of the responders who managed to pull a wind surfer out of the water at Caloundra on Boxing Day and tried to revive him – unfortunately to no avail.
Graham, as well as doing his extra jet ski patrols, is one of those on call at any time of the day.
“Basically he and others like him go out whenever we need him,” said Sunshine Coast SLSC spokesperson Dave McLean
“These are the people who fill the gaps and allow us to provide the high quality service.
“This is to recognise those who go over and beyond what they are required to do – some have 170 and 200 plus hours, plus everyone of these members has to do their own club patrols.”
Graham said while his wife Beth asks him where he will get the time to do all this additional service, she understands exactly what is at stake.
“It’s about looking after people.
“I do it because I have two young girls and, as corny as it sounds, when they get older I know someone will be looking after them.”
And if the Sharrys are like so many other lifesaving families, there is a good chance that Leah, 5, and Georgia, 3, may just want to help dad out on the beach one day.
The other rescue craft crew of the year for the Coast patrols areas are Karsten Kobbe, Glen Garrick, Guy Tanner, Paul Graham and Jake Westacott.
The best jet rescue boat crew was a joint award to Patrick Lafferty and Ivan Francis, SurfCom crew captain of the year was Sue-Anne Della Dianca, SurfCom crew person went to Noel Loaney, while awards for completing more than 150 hours were earned by Allan Davidson, Shane Furner, Terry Richardson and Ivan Francis.
Patrollers with more than 200 patrol hours in operation support were Lee Purchase, Dean Johns and Ken Hart.