ALS Lifeguard Wins NSW Rescue Of The Month

A dramatic rescue of two teenagers in heavy conditions at Angels Beach on the NSW Far North Coast last month has earned Saul Duran a lifeguard with the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) the prestigious NSW Rescue of the Month Award for September.

On Tuesday 22 September at around 2pm, ALS Lifeguard Saul Duran was approached by several members of the public who advised him that there were two people in the water at Angels Beach in need of assistance. At the time Saul was patrolling Shelly Beach which is located almost a kilometre to the south.

Saul contacted the State Operations Centre to advise he would be pulling down the flags and closing Shelly Beach while he responded to the incident. He then radioed lifeguards at neighbouring Lighthouse Beach to alert them to the situation and requested their assistance.

Saul and the member of public drove up to the location at the northern end of the beach equipped with a rescue tube, defibrillator and oxygen. Saul intended to bring a rescue board in case it was needed, but was unable to do so as it wouldn’t fit in the car.

As they reached the scene, Saul using the knowledge and skills gained in a decade as a lifeguard entered the water with the tube at an angle that would allow him to reach the two distressed girls aged 13 and 14 respectively as quickly as possible.

“As I arrived at the location, there was a crowd of people on the beach trying to locate the two teenage swimmers. I immediately swam out to find the two females with the rescue tube.

“A local body boarder who must’ve realised what was going on helped me with the rescue by taking care of the closest swimmer who was about 50 metres off shore,” said Saul Duran.

Saul continued swimming with the rescue tube to the second teenager who had drifted 400 metres from shore as a result of being caught in a flash rip.

“Every stroke I was making I thought I would be looking for someone who had drowned but as I kept on swimming I finally gained sight of the female which was remarkable as the conditions were awful.

“The female that I rescued was understandably in shock when I reached her and she thought we weren’t going to make it back to the beach,” he said.

After 20 minutes of swimming, Saul successfully brought the teenaged patient back to the beach where Lighthouse Beach Lifeguard Dave Mortimer who had driven an All Terrain Vehicle to the scene was waiting. The two teenagers had ingested a significant amount of water and were understandably in shock so both life guards assisted by administering initial first aid.

The NSW Ambulance Service arrived shortly after to continue treatment with the two patients later transported to hospital for observation.

A modest Saul Duran later paid tribute both to the body boarder who assisted in the rescue and his fellow lifeguard Dave Mortimer for helping to prevent what so easily could have been a tragedy.

“It was an amazing feeling knowing that I saved the teenager’s life, and a special mention should go to the local body boarder who rescued the other swimmer and Dave Mortimer for helping me on the beach.”

“This rescue was definitely the longest I’ve been involved in and it was very close to being a fatality. I’m just stoked I was able to save someone’s life,” he concluded.

Saul’s efforts on the day later earned praise from NSW Northern Lifeguard Supervisor Scott McCartney, State Operations Centre Duty Officers and the attending paramedics. The skills and fitness he showed in getting to the location quickly from his Shelly Beach post, to quickly finding both swimmers, assessing the correct course of action, and then rescuing the stranded teenager with just a rescue tube are all a testament to his ability as a lifeguard.

The SLSNSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners have the chance to win the Australian Rescue of the Month and become finalists for the SLSNSW Rescue of the Year which is presented at the annual Awards of Excellence.

For official citations and past recipients please visit the Rescue of the Month Recognition Page.

Thu 15 Oct 2015