Surf Lifesaving Injuries in New Zealand Between 2009 to 2018 Derived From the Surf Life Saving New Zealand Injury Reporting Database: Technical Report #2 to Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ)

Diewald, SN
Hume, P
Wilson, BD
Wooler, A
Merrett, R
Fong, DTP
Reay, S
Smith, V
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Commissioned Report
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SPRINZ, Auckland University of Technology

Background: Incident Report Forms (IRFs) are routinely completed by lifeguard patrols and include all incidents attended to by lifeguards in their supervision of beaches including rescue, search, and first aid activity. According to SLSNZ internal injury reports, increased use of IRBs in New Zealand may have resulted in an increase in injury incidences. However, the details surrounding these injuries were not provided in the internal reports. Purpose: To analyse the SLSNZ database from 2009 to 2018 to identify injury sites, types, and mechanisms of IRB‐related injuries occurring to surf life savers and reported to SLSNZ. Methods: A retrospective analysis of the SLSNZ injury database for 2009 to 2018 was conducted. Results: In total, there were 253 (female: 100/253, 39.5%; male: 153/253, 60.5%) IRB‐related injury cases reported to SLSNZ from 2009 to 2018. More reported surf lifesaving incidents occurred during patrol (155/253) than competition (12/253). Overall, most injuries to surf lifesavers were lower extremity injuries (131/253, 51.8%). The most reported injury types from 2009 to 2018 were “unclear” (86/253, 34.0%) followed by lacerations (65/253, 25.7%). Overall, the most reported injury mechanism from treatment note free text analysis was “landing” (females: 21/100, 21.0%; males: 25/153, 16.3%) defined by the authors as “landing inside the IRB after going airborne while the IRB was in the water”. Discussion: Injury prevention initiatives should be focused on areas of high injury frequency such as the landings after becoming airborne. The mechanisms for the lower extremity injuries needs to be clearly identified. As lacerations were most frequent the first aid kits will need adequate supplies such as steristrips. Staff first aid training should focus on lower limb fracture, ankle sprain, and laceration, first response treatment. SLSNZ would benefit from investigating the reporting rates of surf life savers and member mindset surrounding incident reporting, particularly in cases involving IRBs, as there was clear underreporting of injuries given feedback from SLSNZ staff on the results in this report. Conclusions: The SLSNZ injury database likely provides an underestimation of the number of injuries resulting from the use of IRBs during patrol and competition. Lower limb and back injuries were frequent. Landing after becoming airborne while the IRB was in the water was a common cause of injury.

Diewald S.N., Hume P.A., Wilson B.D., Wooler A., Merrett R., Fong D.T.P., Reay, S., Smith, V. Surf lifesaving injuries in New Zealand between 2009 to 2018 derived from the Surf Life Saving New Zealand Injury reporting database: Technical Report #2 to Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ). SPRINZ, Auckland University of Technology, 16th June 2019. 20 pages.
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