Wednesday, 7th December 2016
The coastline is a changing environment. Tides go in and out daily resulting in varying water depths and many of the Jetties and piers experience sand movements.
Victoria Parks reports on a real life experience in a bid to increase awareness.
Nazim Erdem in conjunction with Parks Victoria and spinal cord injury organisations Independence Australia and Spire (a division of AQA Victoria Ltd.), is reminding Victorians to think before they jump or dive from piers and jetties this summer to minimise the risk of spinal cord injury.
At the age of 20, Nazim Erdem dived off an Elwood pier into shallow water in an effort to impress some girls who were nearby. The dive resulted in a permanent spinal cord injury and left Nazim quadriplegic for life.
“It was just a bit of fun with my mates but it’s changed my life forever. You’re aware that there are risks in life but I never thought jumping off a pier would result in an injury like this,” said Nazim Erdem.
“After I’d jumped off the pier and hit the bottom I realised I couldn’t move any part of my body which meant I couldn’t resurface. Luckily I’d been taught to hold my breath under water for up to three minutes. My mates thought I was mucking around so I was under water for nearly two and a half minutes before they realised something was wrong.”
Prior to his accident Nazim played Australian Rules Football and was an amateur boxer. Following his accident, Nazim took up wheelchair rugby and competed successfully as a member of the Gold medal winning Australian team at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and has previously won silver medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Paralympics plus another gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. Naz is also the first person with a spinal cord injury to paraglide solo and compete in the Targa Tasmania car rally.
Each year there are 350-400 new cases of spinal cord injuries reported and 9% of these are caused by water-related accidents.
Parks Victoria District Manager, Graeme Davis says that despite regular patrols of piers and upgraded signage across Port Phillip and Western Port, people are not listening to the warnings and serious injuries are still regularly occurring.
“Diving from piers and jetties might seem like a good idea on a hot day but in reality it is an extremely dangerous practice.”
“People don’t realise that water depths change daily as a result of the tides, sand movement and submerged debris such as shopping trolleys are unexpected hazards,” said Mr Davis.
Independence Australia, CEO, Peter Turner, notes that young men in particular are ignoring the warnings and not thinking before they jump or dive around waterways.
“Males aged 15 – 35 years are at the highest risk of acquiring a spinal cord injury, yet the most common causes of these which are water/diving related activities and road accidents – are preventable,” said Mr Turner.
Parks Victoria, Independence Australia and Spire are encouraging people to find a safe point from which to enter the water to swim and enjoy the beach this summer.
Source: Parks Victoria