Lifeguard Dave Crossingham keeps an eye on swimmers from the tower at Rainbow Beach.
Lifeguard Dave Crossingham keeps an eye on swimmers from the tower at Rainbow Beach. Renee Pilcher

Tower in trouble

A SQUALL is brewing at Rainbow Beach where a case of "he said she said" has left the aging surf tower to rot and kept lifesavers locked out of new first aid facilities.

The tower is leaking so badly, thousands of dollars in lifesaving equipment is sitting in water, flags are going mouldy, cupboards are warping and even the structural safety of the building is in doubt.

Gympie Regional Council yesterday vehemently rejected claims it had ignored repeated requests to fix the rundown tower and denied volunteer lifesavers were being locked out of the first aid room which was built as part of the bathing reserve's new $400,000 amenities block.

Despite the facilities opening before Christmas, lifesavers are still out in the cold.

If a swimmer is injured or stung, they have to drive them up the hill to the clubhouse and/or heat water up in an urn inside the tower to treat them.

When asked about the issue this week, Mayor Ron Dyne said it was the first he had ever heard of it.

He said, after investigating the allegations, that nobody, including the maintenance staff responsible for those facilities, had received any information from surf lifesavers or lifeguards that the tower needed fixing or the first aid room was off limits to lifesavers.

This was surprising news to the lifesavers, who insist their organisation has been in "constant communication" over a long period of time with council staff about both issues.

Indeed, some were concerned any media attention would upset the wrong people and set them even further back in their efforts.

Club captain Shane Handy said he was told by council staff that only the lifeguards were allowed to use the first aid room unless there was a "dire emergency".

Any suggestion the miscommunication was due to rivalry between the volunteer lifesavers and the professional lifeguards, who are paid by the council, was wrong, Mr Handy said.

Rivalry may exist elsewhere on the coast, but not at Rainbow Beach.

But even Cr Dyne suggested the confusion could be "some sort of demarcation" issue.

He stressed the room was open and available to both organisations.

Gympie Times

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