National Careers Week | Lara Emmett

Monday 13 May 2024

National Careers Week aims to celebrate the careers, and career development of all Australians.

There are endless stories of surf lifesavers whose time within the movement has had an impact on their career choices, or the ability to take their skills to a professional environment.

We caught up with former Surf Life Saving Tasmania board member Lara Emmett who came through the movement as a member at Ulverstone SLSC, and while she is still involved with her home club, now works as a doctor in Queensland. 

Tell us a little about how you first got involved in surf lifesaving, and how long you've been involved?

Lara: The North West Coast is surrounded by beautiful coastline, along with numerous rivers and dams spread across the region. Recognising the importance of water safety, my family joined the local surf lifesaving club, where I was able to learn swimming and related skills from a young age.

Surf lifesaving has always been a respectable and well-known organisation for teaching life lessons when it comes to surf safety to children. Twenty years later, and I am still part of the movement.

Did you always want to move into the medical field, and did you find your training as a surf lifesaver had an impact on your choice of career?

Lara: Since childhood, I’ve always had an interest in the medical field. However, my experiences in surf lifesaving cemented my aspirations.   

I believe the medical field and lifesaving do share many similarities, despite the apparent differences in their environments. Both professions require quick-thinking and the ability to remain calm under pressure, as you can be faced with high-stake situations where spilt-second decisions mean the difference between wellbeing versus injury.

Both medically and in lifesaving, there is focus on communication skills as you can be required to effectively convey information, instructions and reassurance to patients and families or medical services/teams.

Moreover, both medical professionals and lifesavers are dedicated to the wellbeing of others and their community, committing themselves to saving lives and promoting health. 

With these similarities, I found I was able to transfer many of my experiences and skills over to my career. Lifesaving has undoubtedly proved a valuable asset to me and my career.

Do you get to see instances where people who are trained surf lifesavers are able to transfer their skills to a professional environment, such as becoming lifeguards, paramedics, or event first aid officers at their place of work?

Lara: Through lifesaving, I have met hundreds of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and it has reaffirmed to me that skills from this organisation can be useful in many career paths.

Numerous of my surf childhood friends have transitioned into paramedics utilising their expertise in first aid, CPR, and emergency response to provide crucial pre-hospital care. Similarly I’ve seen former lifesavers excel as trauma nurses, leveraging their experience in managing high-pressure situations.

Beyond traditional healthcare roles, I also know several former surf lifesavers thriving in occupations such as firefighting and search and rescue, where their proficiency in water safety, rescue techniques, and teamwork proves invaluable in challenging and dynamic environments. Other lifesavers have pursued careers in disaster response and humanitarian aid, utilising their expertise in emergency medical care, logistical coordination and community engagement to provide life-saving assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the world.

As a former Board member, how important do you see the recruitment and training of a new generation of lifesavers for not only the safety of beachgoers, but the benefit they provide to the wider community?

Lara: Lifesavers play a vital role in safeguarding the lives of individuals enjoying coastal environments, offering a reassuring presence and swift response in times of crisis. However, their impact extends far beyond the shoreline, as the skills and values instilled through lifesaving training promote a culture of safety, responsibility, and community service that resonates throughout society.

By equipping individuals with the knowledge, expertise, and confidence to respond effectively to emergencies, we empower them to make a positive difference not only at the beach but also in everyday life, whether it's administering first aid in a workplace or volunteering during community events.

Moreover, the sense of camaraderie, teamwork and leadership fostered within the lifesaving community cultivates strong social bonds and a spirit of solidarity that strengthens the fabric of the wider community. Therefore, investing in the recruitment and training of new lifesavers is not just a matter of beach safety but a commitment to nurturing resilient, compassionate individuals who contribute to the well-being and cohesion of society as a whole.

Does your lengthy involvement in SLS have a continued impact on your life both professionally and personally, and if so, how?

Lara: The extensive community involvement, leadership skills development and educational opportunities I had with surf lifesaving all were invaluable when it came to applying for my tertiary studies, and throughout the degree.

Professionally, I have found training and skills from the youth development programs, were able to be translated into my career, where I rely on quick-thinking, effective communication and collaboration everyday.

Personally, I have made numerous life-long friendships and have been able to engage in networking programs, where I was able to connect with like-minded individuals  Additionally, I have met some inspiring people along the way, who have provided me with invaluable insight and advice, for not just lifesaving matters, but career paths and knowledge as well.

National Careers Week | Lara Emmett