Lifesavers from North Bondi SLSC’s Patrol 14 have been awarded the National Rescue of the Month Award for April after their mass rescue on Saturday 23 April.
At around 9:15am, North Bondi surf lifesavers rescued multiple swimmers from the permanent rip at the northern end of Bondi Beach.
“It was a pretty miserable day, the beach was closed so we had no flags up and we weren’t really expecting much to happen,” Patrol Captain, Karen Sheppard said.
Early on the patrol a group of 15 ocean swimmers were spotted heading towards the water. As they approached they were advised by the lifesavers not to enter as the beach was closed due to rough conditions and a 2-3 metre swell.
Despite the warning, the swimmers entered the surf.
Unfortunately, soon after, the swimmers found themselves in trouble 50 metres offshore.
During the incident a number of the swimmers were washed against the rocks by heavy swell.
Immediately, Patrol Captains Simon King and Karen Sheppard launched a rescue effort.
As the conditions were extremely rough a team of lifesavers headed out.
Gary Pendergast headed out to assist a swimmer who had been washed onto the rocks, Patrick Kerr and Matthew Brown went to assist on a rescue board, David Tinworth and Jake Hilton went out in an IRB, and John Rohl and Lisa Croudace took out rescue tubes all headed out to provide support under the direction of Simon and Karen.
Once on scene, Patrick supported two swimmers on his board until Matthew arrived and was able to transfer one of the exhausted swimmers onto Matthew’s board so that he could paddle the swimmer back to shore.
Due to the severe conditions, Patrick transferred the remaining swimmer into the IRB to be taken back to shore by Dave and Jake.
In the meantime, Lisa had directed the remaining struggling swimmers back to shore.
While Lisa was helping the group one of the swimmers attempted to swim against the rip. Lisa offered her rescue tube to the swimmer but the swimmer refused to take it.
John arrived to the group with fins a few minutes later and helped the swimmer negotiate their way through the large swell safely to shore.
All 15 swimmers were returned to shore and administered first aid.
Several of the swimmers suffered serious injury from being washed against the rocks but have since made a full recovery.
The challenging conditions and the difficulty of the rescue highlight the teamwork and skill shown by the North Bondi surf lifesavers, both on the beach and in the water.
The team will be presented with their National Award at the next Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving event.