Life saving reel

Life saving reel

The surf life saving reel was beach life saving apparatus from Australia.

The reel was originally invented at Bondi Beach by Lyster Ormsby and then was later that year redesigned by G H Olding. It was a giant reel with rope wrapped around it with a harness at the end. The reel rested in a frame that would rest on the sand. The life saver would attach the harness to his or her self then swim out to the struggling bather/surfer. Once they reached the patient they would attach the patient to the harness and another life saver on the beach would reel them in. The life saver in the water would tend to another patient or swim alongside the patient to reassure them if they were conscious or make sure that nothing went wrong if they were unconscious.

The actual reel and rope would weigh about 50-60 pounds and was officially made part of the surf lifesaving community on Sunday 24th March 1906. The reel then was used in the British Isles shortly after being invented. One of the last places to accept the reel was Cairns in 1925. The reel was used up to 1993 where it was replaced by IRBs (Inflatable Rubber Boats). The first person to rescued using the reel was the famous aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. Kingsford-Smith was awarded a Military Cross during WWI and was the first person to make a trans-pacific flight to Australia and won the England to Australia air race and crashed during the same race some years later and his body was never found. The airport in Sydney is named after him.

The surf life saving reel was especially useful during the disaster on the 6th of February 1938. This day at Bondi was given the name Black Sunday after the events that took place on that day. On this day a series of freak waves hit the beach and washed about 300 bathers into rough surf conditions where most required assistance. 80 surf life savers equipped with 8 reels saved all but 4 swimmers that died before reaching shore. These were the first surf related deaths ever on Bondi beach.

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