Senior West Australians learn vital lifesaving skills

9 May 2018

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s motto is “Everyone Can Be a Lifesaver”, and we are determined to see this become a reality across our state. People of all ages, from children right through to seniors, are capable of learning vital swimming and lifesaving skills.

This month Royal Life Saving WA is specifically focusing on teaching those over the age of 55 vital lifesaving skills through our Grey Medallion program. The Grey Medallion is a water safety and lifesaving skills initiative for older adults which aims to encourage a healthy, independent and active lifestyle through the development of essential lifesaving skills such us water safety knowledge, basic rescue skills, aquatic exercise and resuscitation techniques.

Over the past 10 years 117 people aged 55 and over have lost their life to drowning in WA. In this age group there are additional risk factors due to medications and underlying medical conditions, along with a tendency to overestimate aquatic abilities.

Local MLA Mark Folkard with Grey Medallion participants by the pool at Arena JoondalupRoyal Life Saving WA is urging WA seniors to stay active and reduce their drowning risk. Participating in an aquatic exercise class is ideal for older adults because of its low-impact nature, making it suitable for both active people and those with restricted mobility. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart attack, improve blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure and even help to prevent falls and injury.

14 keen senior participants have been learning vital swimming and lifesaving skills in recent weeks as part of a pilot Grey Medallion program at Arena Joondalup. Today they received their Grey Medallion medals having completed the program. Royal Life Saving WA Aquatic Trainer, Isabel Franzoni, who is delivering the 6 week-course says “I’m so proud of these participants who have come so far, from ladies who were too frightened to wet their hair to actually jumping in and rescuing someone."

Member for Burns Beach, Mark Folkard MLA, attended today's course to congratulate the participants and see their lifesaving skills in action. As a Swim and Survive Ambassador for Royal Life Saving WA Mr Folkard understands the importance of these skills. "Over 50% of my electorate have come from overseas, a majority from the UK, and for them the beach is somewhere they usually just go to sunbake. If we can teach them to understand that the water environment does have its risks and how to enjoy it safely we can enhance their enjoyment of it."

"For senior Australians especially aquatic activity is one of the best things they can do to stay active. The water support their joints, as long as they learn to enjoy it safely. It's also a great social activity to help them to get out of the house and enjoy some of our fantastic environment."

Pilot Grey Medallion programs are also underway in regional WA, at Geraldton Aquarena, South West Sports Centre Bunbury and Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre. We are looking forward to seeing the Grey Medallion program delivered in all WA Aquatic centres.

Seniors who are interested in taking part in the program can click the link below, call us on 9383 8200, or speak to staff at their local aquatic centre.

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