Surf Life Saving Volunteers Honoured at Parliament House for Saving Lives on and off the Beach.
Three sets of Surf Lifesavers who were involved in dramatic, life threatening rescues in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales earlier this year, have today been officially recognised for their brave efforts as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving program at Parliament House in Canberra.
A National Rescue of the Month award was presented to Jack Nicol, Paul Nicol, Ben Jones, Kayla Ryan and Zac Comley from Victoria’s Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), for their combined efforts to rescue a 51 year old man at Gunnamatta Beach this year.
On March 31st, the off-duty lifesavers witnessed the man catch a 1.5 metre wave into shore with his hands by his side before being sucked up by the wave and slammed head-first into the sandbank. The lifesavers then noticed he was lying face down in the water, unconscious and responded immediately, providing first aid and potential spinal injury management as they stabilised him. He regained consciousness a short time later and was taken to hospital by ambulance, however was sadly rendered a paraplegic as a result of his injuries.
Travis Owen, a volunteer lifesaver from Dongara Dennison SLSC in WA and his school friends Taylor Brown, Daniel McGuiness and Declan Ridley, have also been awarded for their brave efforts to help rescue a stranded fisherman amidst wild ocean conditions.
On August 19th, the four boys were checking out the large swell breaking at South Beach, Port Dennison when they saw a fisherman in a small dingy approximately 300 metres off shore get struck by a large wave, forcing his boat to capsize and throwing him into the ocean.
Travis Owen, who only obtained his bronze medallion last summer, immediately reported the incident and gained access to the nearby surf club where he was a member. The boys, all former club members and competent surfers, grabbed rescue boards and paddled out to the man, who had managed to climb onto his upturned boat. Travis pulled him onto his board and paddled him back to shore whilst battling cold conditions and a large swell. The other boys managed to retrieve some of the fishing equipment which was floating in the water.
Two lifesavers from Umina SLSC in NSW, Jenni Darwin and Graeme Carroll, were also honoured today following a remarkable turn of events in their local community.
On September 2nd, Jenni Darwin was out for an evening jog at Ettalong Beach, when a couple rushed out of their house screaming out for someone who knew CPR to help them with their baby who wasn’t breathing.
Jenni immediately initiated first aid, putting the baby in recovery position and attempted to open the airways in case she was choking. A short time later, Graeme Carrol who was out walking his dogs, came across the situation and gave the baby a few rounds of mouth to mouth breaths to try and clear the airways and remove any obstruction.
After working on the baby for a few rounds of CPR, the pair were able to assist her to draw breath again, despite her condition still being very serious and non-responsive. Jenni continued to monitor the baby while Graeme provided support to the family until paramedics arrived. It was later reported the baby was expected to make a full recovery.
“In all three scenarios, it is solely due to the fast actions, exceptional training, bravery and leadership of these volunteer lifesavers, that these two men and a baby girl are alive today,” said Surf Life Saving Australia’s Chair of Lifesaving, Chris Jacobson.
“These stories highlight the important role our lifesavers play not just on the beach during their active volunteer patrols, but also within their own communities. They are everyday people watching out for their fellow human beings, which is a true testament to their courage and commitment to the ethos of the Surf Life Saving movement.”
A number of Federal Ministers and MP’s attended the Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) event including the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving co-chairs, Sarah Henderson MP and the Honourable Matt Thistlethwaite MP.
The next Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving will be held in March 2017.