Ballina Jet Boat Awarded ROM

The Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue Crew has deservedly been awarded the Rescue of the Month for April 2013.

At around 2am on 15 April 2013 Surf Rescue 40 (Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue) received a distress call to assist two vessels in difficulty at the mouth of the Richmond River at Ballina.

Facing over two metre swell and an outgoing tide, Mark Puglisi and Brad Heard responded and contacted Gary Murphy, Gary Meredith and Simon Fogarty to assist. Prepared for night operations, Mark took helm as skipper, with Brad and Gary Murphy as crew aboard Surf Rescue 40. Gary Meredith and Simon provided land support from the Northern breakwall in the 4WD.

Nearing the bar, Surf Rescue 40 received communications from Marine Rescue NSW that they had lost communication with one of their vessels, which had three crew on board. While no vessels or persons could be immediately located, Gary and Simon advised that lights could be seen approximately 300m east of the bar.

Surf Rescue 40 proceeded to cross the bar and located the capsized vessel with three people on the upturned hull. Rescuers were advised there was one person still trapped inside the cabin of the motor cruiser and while Brad prepared to enter the water, a person swam out from the cruiser. After securing all four persons onboard, Surf Rescue 40 crew were advised there was still one person outstanding from the motor cruiser.

A single torch light was sighted approximately 500m north-east of their location; after commencing a search Surf Rescue 40 located the outstanding person floating, wearing a lifejacket.

After advising SLS and Marine Rescue services that all persons were accounted for, the crew of Surf Rescue 40 assessed all patients.

The rescued patients began to display initial signs of hypothermia. The rescue helicopter was unable to winch due to the conditions, a return across the bar was deemed too dangerous and after all other options were considered, beaching Surf Rescue 40 was considered the safest option. Rescuers on land radioed that conditions at Shelly Beach were acceptable for the Jetboat to come ashore. Emergency services and SLS personnel relocated to Shelly Beach. The crew of Surf Rescue 40 successfully manoeuvred through the surf zone and safely beached the vessel. Five patients were transferred to an awaiting ambulance.

The bravery, skill and level-headed response shown by the crew and volunteers of the Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue saved five lives on this night.

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

Rescue of the Month recipients at state level receive a $400 Surf Store credit, a pair of waterproof binoculars, a plaque and a framed citation.

For more information and to view past recipients please visit the Rescue of the Month Recognition Page.

Fri 7 Jun 2013