Noosa Heads SLSC Surf Lifesaver Robert “RJ” Lemon has been awarded the national Rescue of the Month (May/June 2017) after his quick thinking in a heroic battle with a stingray saved the life of 17 year old Sam White.
At 1pm on the 26th of June 18 year old RJ noticed signs of distress from his friend Sam, who was spearfishing 80 metres off the coast of Noosa National Park. When he saw the splashing and yelling RJ said his first thoughts were that Sam had accidentally speared himself or something dangerous.
Dressed in board shorts RJ responded immediately. He dove off the rocks and swam quickly to where Sam was becoming increasingly distressed, noticing as he got closer that blood was in the water. Fearing a shark attack he courageously approached Sam and discovered that a stingray barb was driven clean through Sam’s leg from one side to the other and he was being dragging under by the stingray in its efforts to swim away. Fuelled by adrenalin RJ’s training kept him calm as he took charge of the situation “I held the spear and Sam above the water as the spear was still attached to the stingray, so the stingray wouldn’t drag him under” he said.
Noticing that the stingray’s movement was causing Sam massive blood loss and excruciating pain RJ’s quick thinking was praised by club veterans who said they had never heard of any rescue quite like it.
“I instructed Sam to stick his fingers through the stingrays eyes and mouth to prevent it from trying to swim away ” RJ said. The two fought their way back to the rocks and were helped out of the water by a friend, Milo, who assisted him to pull Sam, the ray and the spearfishing gear out of the water, both still connected to his leg.
Thankfully a passing ranger stopped and called paramedics. Concerned about Sam, who was in a lot of pain from the frantic movements of the attached stingray, RJ asked the ranger if he has a knife or sharp object which he then used to sever its tail preventing further damage to the wound. RJ and Milo then carefully carried Sam to the pathway to be treated by the arriving paramedics where he was transferred to hospital for treatment.
Noosa Heads SLSC will be presented the Rescue of the Month award at Parliament House in September.
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.
Each month, the seven SLS states and territory award a Rescue of the Month, with winners automatically nominated for Surf Life Saving Australia’s national award.