More than a dozen surf lifesavers and lifeguards from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have been honoured at Parliament House in Canberra with Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Rescue of the Month (NROM) awards for the months of January to June.
Members from as far afield as North Stradbroke Island in Queensland and Fairhaven on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road were invited to the nation’s capital to be recognised for their exceptional and selfless service to their local communities.
The ceremony was attended by the Co-Chairs of Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving, Jason Falinksi MP, Member for Mackellar, and the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Member for Kingsford Smith, with a host of other Federal Members attending the ceremony.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s Rescue of the Month recognises incredible and courageous acts of service in saving lives.
“The members who we honour here used their training and skills gained as surf lifesavers to ensure that more than 50 people were able to return home safely to their loved ones,” said Surf Life Saving Australia President, Graham Ford AM.
“The iconic red and yellow flags of Surf Life Saving, and the surf lifesavers that vigilantly patrol our beaches are part of a movement dedicated to saving lives just like these brave individuals who have been honoured with awards.”
January Rescue of the Month – North Stradbroke Island Lifeguards, Point Lookout SLSC
Logan Specht, Alexander Langenberg and Anna Prasek
• On Tuesday 1 January 2019, Logan Specht was alerted by members of the public about a person in trouble on Frenchman’s Beach. Logan radioed for assistance and ran to retrieve the rescue board from the lifeguard vehicle, while instructing his friend Tim Macdonald to bring the soft pack resuscitation gear. Logan then entered the two-metre swell with his board from the cliff face and paddled out to the patient.
• Point Lookout SLSC Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) was launched by Alex Langdenberg and Anna Prasek and travelled around to Frenchman’s beach to assist. The IRB arrived as Logan reached the unresponsive patient, with the IRB picking up the patient and Logan and transported them back to the beach. Logan and Alex commenced CPR once the patient was carried up the beach whilst other patrol members set up the oxygen equipment and defibrillator. The equipment was applied to the patient and advance resuscitation techniques adopted. Queensland Ambulance Service and emergency flight doctors arrived on scene and provided medical assistance to the patient.
• This rescue operation demonstrated a coordinated response and highlighted the skill and bravery of all rescuers in treacherous conditions.
February Rescue of the Month – North Cronulla SLSC, Cronulla SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, Sutherland Shire Lifeguards, Sutherland Shire Council and Surf Life Saving Sydney Branch.
This was a mass recue with over 35 responders involved from multiple agencies.
Geoff Budd, Mark Richardson, Charlie Winkelmeier, Ryan McGrath, Kyan Winn, Joel Wiseman, Brett Richardson
• On Saturday 17 February 2019, a sandbank collapsed at North Cronulla beach. The patrol tower identified the change in conditions, which had caused over 50 swimmers to be washed into deeper water. The patrol tower radioed the on-beach patrol, who then dropped the patrol flags and closed the beach to enact a mass rescue. Both off duty and on duty members of North Cronulla SLSC and Sutherland Shire Council Lifeguards implemented the mass rescue using 12 rescue boards, six rescue tubes and one Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB). Further support arrived quickly from the nearby ASRL Boat Carnival where members from the Sutherland Shire Council, Elouera SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, Cronulla SLSC and Sydney Branch provided water safety. These services included additional lifeguards, lifesavers, IRBs and Rescue Watercrafts (RWCs) to rescue patients.
• Despite the colossal scope of the incident all swimmers were rescued in only slightly over ten minutes. This amazingly coordinated cooperative effort resulted in over 50 people being rescued with no further injuries needing treatment.
March Rescue of the Month – Surf Coast RWC Service
Michael Henderson, Alexander Buckley and Alex Schwarcz
• On Sunday 10 March 2018, LSV Comms were notified by Police of two people trapped on a rock platform at the base of Spit Point. The water was rough with a two metre swell. Alexander Buckley and Alex Schwarcz were deployed on two Rescue Watercrafts (RWCs) from Fairhaven SLSC to near the rock platform, with Michael Henderson accompanying them as a rescue swimmer on a sled.
• Michael then swam 70m from the RWC to the rock platform to find two patients. Michael assessed the patients and their capabilities and found that while uninjured, one was unable to speak English, the other unable to swim and both were terrified of entering the water. Michael swam back to the RWCs to obtain two Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for the patients. He then made multiple trips to swim both patients to the RWCs, where they were secured to the rear, with Michael accompanying the non-swimmer. Alexander and Alex then guided the RWCs away from the rock faces and other rocks and to land on the nearby Sunnymead Beach. Upon reaching the beach the life savers performed a medical assessment of both patients who appeared in good spirits and required no further medical attention.
• With the incoming tide, large swells and poor swimming ability of one of the patients, the skill and experience of these life savers resulted in a successful rescue when the outcome had potential to be dangerous.
May/June of the Month – Lower North Coast Branch and Pacific Palms SLSC
Richard Ellery, Kel McCredie, Jerrad Allen, Jeanette Allen and Daniel Morgan
• On Saturday 22 June 2019, Duty Officer Richard Ellery received a call from Surfcom that two patients had been swept 100 metres from shore after falling from rocks at Boomerang Beach. The swell was large, approximately two metres high and it was a cold day with temperatures of around 12°C. While Richard drove to the location, Kel McCredie launched a Rescue Water Craft (RWC) from the Pacific Palms SLSC with the assistance of a former member Alex Martin. Richard arrived, boarded the RWC and was directed by ambulance officers 1.5km south to the location, where he found the two patients 100 metres offshore.
• Both patients appeared hypothermic and had severe injuries. Richard moved the patients onto the RWC sled and then was met en route to the Pacific Palms SLSC by the Pacific Palms SLSC Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB). When arriving at the club, Kel, Jerrad Allen, Jeanette Allen and Daniel Morgan began administering advanced first aid to the patients while awaiting arrival of the ambulance officers.
• The difficulty of the rescue and complexity of administering advanced first aid was increased significantly by the serious injuries to the patients and adverse weather conditions. The rescue demonstrated how the diversity of life saving skills can be used to prevent what otherwise could have had a more serious outcome.
National Rescue of the Month Awards
Surf Life Saving Australia’s Rescue of the Month is a national initiative that recognises the courageous and outstanding achievements our surf lifesavers and members perform on our coastal waterways every single day.
The next Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving will be held in December 2019.