Bear with me before I get to the reptiles. There’s a bit of backstory.
I had heard on the radio on Saturday morning that Ballina Marine Rescue was holding a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training morning, which members of the public could attend for free. Since we live in the boonies, half an hour from the nearest hospital, it seemed like a good idea. My St John’s first aid certificate is way out of date, and I needed an update. Half an hour is too long to wait doing nothing – 3 minutes and the person is experiencing brain damage from lack of oxygen.
Apart from teaching us how to rhythmically compress the chests of dummies, the workshop also showed us how to use defibrillation machines. These machines are designed for dummies, too – an electronic voice runs you through the procedure, to minimise mistakes, and even counts out loud the pressing of the chest at the correct tempo. (I’d listened to a RadioLab podcast a while ago that said an easy way to remember the correct rhythm was through two songs – “Staying alive” by the Bee Gees (!), and “Another one bites the dust”, by Queen (!!). But I couldn’t sing and count at the same time (I tried), so I’m glad the machine does the counting.)
Anyway, after pressing the plastic, and morning tea, we had a surf-awareness workshop down at the beach, 5 minutes’ walk away. This beach is never patrolled by lifeguards, and the surf is unpredictable and wild at times. Knowledge of how to read the waves is very worthwhile for someone like me who grew up in South Australia where the St Vincent and Spencer Gulfs dampen down any surf, and I didn’t learn to recognise rips or learn what to do if you’re caught in one (“Don’t panic”, and “Let it carry you out the back to the calm water, then you can swim in”, i.e. don’t get exhausted trying to fight against it.)
Three children had gotten into trouble swimming off South Ballina Beach last summer, and both parents drowned trying to save them. The kids survived, to be orphans. So surf-awareness is literally vitally important.
Memorial to two parents who drowned trying to save their kids last summer
After that, we happened to be in the right place and time for a reptile-awareness workshop – it was school holidays and such educational events abound. What a great way to top off the day!