Dr. Gary Payinda







New Zealand



National Medical Director, Surf Life Saving New Zealand



Gary is an emergency doctor who also works part-time aboard a rescue helicopter doing prehospital and retrieval medicine. He patrols as a surf lifeguard at Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand, on the North Island’s Pacific coast.


His interests are in education and governance, and he has held director or trustee roles on health boards, unions, and school boards. He has written as a newspaper columnist and more recently as an occasional contributor.


His work has always tried to focus on delivering practical outcomes to the people in the most need, tempering the ‘ideal’ with the ‘achievable’.


The medical committee excited him because it’s a collection of the world’s bright thinkers on issues of drowning prevention and treatment.


How do we temper the latest evidence-based medicine with the practical needs of people suffering water-related injuries, who often come from the least privileged sectors of our societies?


The past 40 years have seen unimaginable scientific and medical progress at the same time as wealth inequality worldwide has grown to levels not seen since before World War I. We have more technological marvels than ever, while at the same time we face an enormous and growing divide between the rich and the poor.


The social determinants of health are turning out to be the most significant ones. The numbers attest to that: of the 300,000+ fatal drownings each year, the vast majority occur among the poor and marginalized.


How do we as doctors, researchers, and other health professionals do the best we can for the greatest number? How do we reach and change outcomes for the people at greatest risk?


These questions are what the members of the ILS Medical Committee think about and work on. Many of the members have personally treated drowned patients and they feel a profound need to do more. Gary is proud to work among these Medical Committee members.


Recommended Readings and Links


Surf Life Saving New Zealand



Water Safety New Zealand



Auckland Regional Helicopter Trust