Meet The Team - Thomas Hession, Rescue Water Craft Coordinator

For three years now, Thomas Hession of Grange Surf Life Saving Club has volunteered for the State Emergency Operations Group as the Rescue Water Craft Coordinator. Thomas works with the Power Craft Officer to manage a team of 40 Rescue Water Craft Operators to deliver roving Patrols and water cover for special events throughout the season.

Over the past 12 months, the RWC service has grown by 20 people and Thomas has a further 14 new recruits to train this summer. Last Season, Adelaide Airport donated a brand new rescue water craft (RWC or Jet Ski) for use on surf lifesaving patrol and in search and rescue call outs. The addition of this craft has increased our fleet to a total of 8 RWC’s and has enabled Surf Life Saving SA to improve our rapid response times on beaches North of Surf Central (North Haven, Largs Bay, Semaphore, Tennyson, Grange, Henley and West Beach).

With the addition of the new craft, our RWC team were able to extend their patrol hours to a record high of 1,182 hours for the season. They performed 135 preventative actions and saved the lives of 13 people last season.

Thomas says volunteering as a RWC Operator is a great way to extend your lifesaving skills and meet people in the Surf Lifesaving movement beyond your Club’s doorstep, “If you’re looking for a way to expand your knowledge of lifesaving and want to see more Surf  Life Saving Clubs and meet more Clubbies this would be a good way to start. Covering over 45km on a metro coast patrol we can visit up to 9 clubs in one patrol. It also takes you away from the traditional patrol of being under the tent and sitting at the beach”.

He encourages Clubbies from all over SA to consider joining the service especially those you enjoy IRB’s and waves he said, “If you enjoy driving or crewing an IRB and enjoy the surf than this would be the service for you to join. Our crews enjoy using the RWC as it is all controlled by the operator. They are fast agile and with the right training they are one of the best rescue tools SLS have invested in”.

If you are interested in joining the RWC team, now is a good time to start considering working on the pre-requisite qualifications during this season and express your interest in joining as a trainee next season. To register your interest for next year’s training cycle simply email

Rescue Water Craft Operator Role Information:

As an RWC Operator, you will be expected to complete rostered volunteer RWC patrols on weekends and public holidays throughout the patrol season, attend training sessions and meetings, and participate in any other activities organised by the Service. Patrols may also include water cover for Surf Sport events and other special events outside of normal SLSSA activities/patrol times.

This service is also on call for daylight operations, seven days a week and operators may be tasked at any time by Surf Life Saving services, or by SA Police and other emergency service organisations to assist with rescues, searches and body retrieval missions.

In addition to any RWC duties, you will be required to maintain an active interest in your club and complete all patrol commitments as required by your club.

Minimum Crew Applicant Criteria

Applicants must meet the following minimum criteria:

•      Be physically fit

•      Be of the age of at least 18 years

•      Be a financial member of an affiliated Surf Life Saving Club

•      Be proficient in the minimum awards as outlined on the following page

•      Attend and pass the Rescue Water Craft (RWC) Operator’s fitness assessments as set

Minimum SLSA Awards

If you do not hold the awards below you will not be considered for this position.

•      Bronze Medallion – proficient

•      Advanced Resuscitation Techniques Certificate – proficient

•      First Aid Certificate [SLSA or other] – current

•      Boat license

•      Driver’s license (and the ability to tow an RWC trailer) – current

Demonstrated IRB driving experience will be particularly well regarded, but not essential.

RWC Operator Fitness /Operational Test Requirements

Fitness assessment criteria are continually being updated to ensure that all applicants are prepared for the rigours associated with being a member of the RWC Service. Fitness tests have and will continue to be designed to ensure that all crew can demonstrate the physical endurance and strength required to safely and efficiently carry out RWC Operator duties.

Applicants who meet the minimum award criteria will be required to complete/pass the following Swim & Run test to potentially continue to the next stage:

•      400m swim within a time limit of no more than 8 minutes

•      1.6km run within a time limit of no more than 8 minutes