Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : January 20 2016 Contents THE ADVERTISER, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2016 - PAGE 11
LIFE has taken on an added dimension for 24 year old
Luke Plant since he was named Australian Life Guard of
the Year last October.
Luke has been an active member of the Woolamai Beach
Surf Life Saving Club (WSBLSC) since the age of 15, when
he started patrols as a volunteer life saver.
He gained gold accreditation with Life Saving Victoria
(LSV) seven years ago, and took on the role as a life guard.
A life guard is a paid employee of LSV. As professionals
they work alongside the volunteer life savers patrolling
the state’s popular swimming beaches.
Dressed in the familiar yellow and orange attire, com-
plete with yellow beach caps, these life savers and guards
can be seen on our beaches every day of the summer sea-
son until the end of Easter.
The heaviest period for life guards on Phillip Island is
from Boxing Day until Australia Day.
In many ways Luke can be viewed as the face of life sav-
ing in that he chooses to give of his holiday time in sum-
mer for the safety of others. Until he was employed as a
life guard, this was done on a voluntary basis.
Luke believes that now it is his turn to give back to the
club and to pass on his knowledge and experience to oth-
ers who are following in his footsteps. This national award
has seen Luke take on extra responsibility and demands.
He has become a public figure through media commit-
ments, and has attended a recent camp for trainee life
savers as guest speaker.
His commitment to the job and his belief in what he
is doing stood out when he was initially selected as the
Victorian Life Guard of the Year before being awarded in
October the title of national life guard. This accolade was
a total surprise, and one that he humbly accepted.
“I was shocked and stoked as I expected the representa-
tives from the northern states to win. They have a much
longer summer season. On the other hand, it was a proud
moment to represent Victoria and to reinforce that we are
doing the right thing in our training at Woolamai,” said
On a professional level this award has come at an op-
portune time for Luke, who feels it holds him in good
stead with the recent changes to the regional boundaries
of Life Saving Victoria.
Phillip Island in 2016 becomes a part of the entire Bass
coast. This means that Phillip Island’s three patrolled
beaches – Smiths Beach, Woolamai and Cowes – will now
joined with Inverloch, Waratah Bay, Venus Bay and Tidal
River on Wilsons Prom. All but Tidal River has a lifesaving
club and volunteer patrols.
Luke’s job now is to travel around these areas and act
as a liaison between the clubs and Life Saving Victoria.
He is able to meet with and talk face to face with life
savers, advising and encouraging them in the work they
are doing, and checking and auditing equipment and gear.
At club level, he organises rosters and patrols to ensure
that all is in readiness in case of an emergency.
He has also taken on a new commitment this summer.
He is now part of the Westpac Helicopter Team, as a
He flies in and out of Moorabbin or Barwon Heads air-
ports either two or three times a week and for up to ten
hours at a time.
The position is a voluntary one.
Westpac have two of these helicopters which patrol
along Victoria’s Surf Coast, across the Heads and into
Port Phillip Bay and around the Bass coastline including
Much of this time is spent on coastal surveillance, but
the three man crew on board are ready for any emergency
Luke needs to be on the alert and ready at all times.
If a swimmer is in danger, he is expected to jump out of
the helicopter and into the water with a rope attached to
him, and a harness which he wraps around the patient,
On occasions he may be required to swim a patient into
“I don’t mind volunteering (for this work) as I want to
give back. I have got so much out of life saving,” Luke
“And it’s great to be up in the air!”
Luke will ease up in the coming month, before heading
back to Melbourne University where he will complete a
medical degree later this year.
A lasting memory of this summer season is the recent
mass rescue of seven swimmers at Cape Woolamai.
“It was overwhelming to see so many people in the water
at once, and for all concerned, it was a pretty incredible
“They were all volunteer rescuers and there was no
equipment on the beach because it was the end of the day
for the patrols,” he said.
Luke arrived when the rescue was in full swing and he
used his training to oversee those who were busy saving
lives on the beach. He has nothing but admiration and
praise for the work they did.
“It was a very brave thing for these people to do – some
were only 15 and 16 years of age and with very little life-
“It was one of the most serious and difficult rescues that
our club has been involved in. I am incredibly proud of them
all. It was a team effort between the rescuers, paramedics
and police who were quickly on the scene,” said Luke.
This accident has left him in no doubt of the quality
of the training of the members of the Woolamai Surf Life
Saving Club, and of the treacherous conditions of this
“It reinforces that beaches, when unpatrolled, are dan-
gerous places. And that people should always choose to
swim between the flags in unknown waters. Beaches like
Woolamai are very unpredictable. It pays to be safe and
heed the warning signs.”
Woolamai Beach life guard Luke Plant (left) is now part of the Westpac Helicopter Team, where he works voluntarily as a rescue swim-
mer. He is pictured with fellow member Surf Coast life guard Michael Henderson (right) and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Luke leads the way
on our beaches
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