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Aug 5, 2011

Will Nanny screw the Ironmen?

There is nothing like socialized medicine to give the self righteous wings and grant them supernanny status. It allows them to avoid the term, wowsers while all of those activities they don’t like can be argued against as a cost to the public if any risk can be found to associate with them. A good coroners report though, is not far behind.

Now a coroners report into the death of a competitor in an Ironman competition calls for the caps to be changed to safety helmets, and floatation devices to be worn during surf competitions. Surf lifesavers have an enviable record of service. Drownings at patrolled beaches are practically non existent, and losses of members virtually never happens.

Unfortunately, Saxon Bird, from Sydney , drowned at the Surf Life Saving Australia nationals on March 21 last year after he was knocked unconscious by a ski. There has been some conjecture as to whether the event should have gone ahead, owing to rough conditions. The recommendation flies in the face of years of safe competition in the past:

In his findings, Coroner Michael Barnes said Saxon, whose body was recovered after 50 minutes in the surf, might have been saved if he had floated to the surface rather than sinking.

"I recommend SLSA collaborate with the designers of such devices with a view to making the wearing of them compulsory once the organisation is satisfied they are suitable," Mr Barnes wrote.

"Consideration should also be given to the use of helmets by competitors in surfcraft events.”

But champion lifesavers yesterday questioned the recommendations, saying the new safety measures would be impractical and potentially dangerous.
The reality is, that the guy was knocked unconscious by a surf ski in rough conditions and drowned, essentially a freak accident. It would be a tragedy if such an unfortunate event was to result in wholesale changes to the sport that is a ubiquitous part of our national culture.

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