The Gold Coast’s Lifesaver Broker

16 May 2024
Words Syd Douglas Informer

The Gold Coast’s Lifesaver Broker

In his first year with ResortBrokers, our Central Gold Coast broker Syd Douglas is on the crest of a wave with several high-profile listings. We let him catch a break for this column to tell us about his other great passion: surf lifesaving.

Outside my work as a management rights broker, I’m a surf lifesaver. So is my wife. Our two boys, aged six and eight, are on the Nippers program, the surf lifesaving pathways for kids. Between us, we’re pretty much a surf lifesaving family.

There are plenty of parallels between surf lifesaving and management rights: preparation, teamwork, networks, skill acquisition, anticipating situations and applying solutions before problems arise. While these synergies exist, I’m really here to talk surf lifesaving this time around.

I have the great pleasure of meeting many management rights operators in my Central Gold Coast patch. As a former management rights operator myself, I find many operators relate to me better when I tell them that I’ve sat on their side of the desk. I can speak their language and relate to their day-to-day operations. But when I say I volunteer as a surf lifesaver, they’re intrigued. I’m really not one for talking about myself, but if it does come up in conversation, suddenly our chat becomes very warm. Not that I do it for that reason. I got involved in surf lifesaving in 2003, long before I became a broker. That year, I earned my Bronze Medallion at North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), and today I’m a volunteer at Tallebudgera SLSC near our family home. When operators find I volunteer on weekends as a surf lifesaver, they’re intrigued by the rescues, duties and functions of what it entails.

Sometimes they ask why I do it. The simple answer is I love the Gold Coast and want to give back to the community we belong to. Surf lifesaving allows me to do that. Over 18 million beach visitations occur each year in Queensland. SLSCs provide safe swimming environments for anyone who visits here. In the 2022/23 season, Surf Life Saving Queensland recorded 3,276 rescues and over 18,000 first aid treatments performed on our beaches.

SLSCs cover almost 2,000 kilometres of coastline from Tweed Heads right through to Port Douglas. Red and yellow flags go up every day of the year whether they are patrolled by volunteers or paid professionals. During the surf lifesaving season, we’re there every weekend and public holiday, including those sacred family occasions like Christmas and Easter. I volunteer two or three weekends a month, usually a six-hour shift. I could be on beach patrol with a group of 10 or 12 other lifesavers or on a WaveRunner (PWC / jet ski) tracking the drumlines, reporting on sharks and rips via our radio system. Or I could be on an IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) rescuing someone from a boat capsize in Tallebudgera Creek. Surf lifesaving is a highly coordinated and mostly volunteer system that could see us working with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) or Queensland Police Service (QPS) in any given emergency.

I don’t see what I do as a sacrifice or burden. For one, I enjoy it immensely. What’s more, surf lifesaving has given me and my family so much more in return than we’ve ever given it. In surf lifesaving we use the common tagline of “Swim between the flags. If we can’t see you, we can’t save you.” Not too dissimilar from being a broker really. If you’re a vendor and you want the best results, take the advice of industry experts and stay in the advised parameters. Use industry experts and trust the advice given under the watchful eye of your broker. If something goes wrong, then help is on its way. Swim between the flags for your safety. Use industry experts to get the best results.

People I’ve met through surf lifesaving over the last 20 years are among my best friends today. If you’re in a situation when you’ve got to work together to do something, it forms a really strong bond between people. Moreover, the skills I’ve acquired in first aid, spinal carries, resuscitation methods, torniquet proficiency, preventative drowning and the like, is great training. A few years ago, I recall a situation where a police officer had gone into cardiac arrest on Hedges Ave. A member of a local surf club happened to be close by and sprang into action, immediately performing CPR methods he’d learnt as part of his club training. You just never know what might happen or when the skills you’ve acquired will be tested. When you’re on duty, anything could happen, and you have to be prepared for it. I can recall many situations where things could have been catastrophic if help wasn’t there. Being able to activate those skills when emergencies arise can and does save lives.

Best of all, my wife and I love what surf lifesaving has given our boys. The skills surf lifesaving provides to kids in the Nippers program is second to none. It’s not just the surf skills of reading the conditions and respecting the ocean. It’s also the life skills of community, teamwork and our responsibility to others. It’s helping a mate and having their back.

There’s a tremendous synergy between the day-to-day operations of being a management rights broker and my volunteer work as a surf lifesaver. It’s using your specialist skills to provide people with an environment where risk is managed through competence and proficiency, helping them navigate often choppy waters, and sometimes giving them a safety net and circle of trust. END

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