RFDS ‘paddles’ water safety message to rural children

DESPITE living on outback stations, hundreds of kilometres from the beach, paddle boarding is becoming popular with far west Queensland kids.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has added paddle boards to its kit of life saving medical equipment and has been teaching children how to use them.

RFDS Queensland program coordinator Shaun Sellwood said the activity was a fun way for kids to learn a new sport and how to save lives.

“We’ve been able to get access to inflatable paddle boards and taken them on the aircraft, pumped them up at the location through an air compressor and next minute the kids are taking off like they’ve done it for years,” Mr Sellwood said.

“It’s quite a unique scene to see, these kids paddle boarding in the middle of nowhere, and the cattle don’t know what’s going on either.”

Teaching children how to use everyday objects to save lives is an important aspect of the program.

Mr Sellwood said a child from Coen who took part in the field day managed to save a toddler’s life over Christmas by pulling the child out of a pool with a hose.

“We try and use resources that a lot of these kids will have in vehicles nearby or on the side of the river bank or even sometimes esky lids and eskies and things like that, that float.”

“It’s about being creative in the environment they’re in to be able to try and save someone or bring someone back in.”
Learning about water safety during a drought

Barron paddocks greeted the RFDS team when they touched down at Barenya Station, 400 km east of Townsville, to host a safety field day before Christmas.

Cattle producer and father of seven Alan McConachy said thankfully more than 100 millimetres of rain has fallen over his land since December.

The landscape has changed now but he said watching his children learn a water sport in the middle of the drought was “odd”.

“We were all standing around this old turkey’s nest and in the background it was just all black dirt as far as the eye could see and these brand new bloody glary little paddle boards with the kids floating around on them, it did stand out a bit.”

Mr McConachy said his best advice for parents during the wet season was to keep a watchful eye on kids going for a dip in muddy creeks and waterholes.

“Always have someone there sitting on the bank just counting heads because you know little kids can just, especially with this dirty water, they can just go under.

“If you’re sitting around having a few beers and having a laugh, they’re gone in a split second and in that dirty water you’ve got no idea where they are.”

Source & Image Source: ABC

Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.

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Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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