Ballina Jet Boat Crew Awarded Group Bravery Award

A daring night-time rescue in huge surf off the Northern NSW coast in 2013 resulted in the crew of the Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue team being recognised with a Group Bravery Citation in the recent Australian Bravery Awards.

In the early hours of April 15 2013 a Marine Rescue Launch overturned in heavy conditions while on a mission to rescue two yachtsmen who overturned their vessel off Ballina Bar.

After hearing the reports of the rapidly deteriorating situation, the on-water Ballina Jet Rescue crew of Gary Murphy, Bradley Heard and Mark Puglisi, and their shore-based crew of Elton Cummings, Ben Redman and Ross Trease mounted a rescue effort.

After battling the swell to reach the stricken launch, they found two crewmembers standing on the upturned boat. A third crewmember and one of the rescued yachtsman emerged from the under the hull, while a fifth man who had drifted away from the scene attracted the attention of the Jet Boat team with the help of a torch he had fortuitously purchased that afternoon.

All five men were taken aboard the Jet Boat which was now heavily weighed down with eight persons in a boat designed to carry four.

The wind and heavy swell meant an evacuation by helicopter was impossible, and a return to base just as treacherous.

As Elton Cummings recounted to media earlier this week the situation was becoming more dangerous by the minute.

“We wanted to keep them out there until daylight but one of the men was having heart problems and was deteriorating fast,” Mr Cummings said.

A decision was made to land at nearby Shelly Beach where waiting paramedics were able to treat the men before transporting them to hospital.

Even though the rescue was almost two years ago, the men still retain that sense of modesty believing they were just doing their job.

NSW Surf Life Saving President Tony Haven praised the contribution of the Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue team for their ongoing work in patrolling the NSW coastline.

“The Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue team thoroughly deserve this award, and they demonstrated sound judgment and teamwork during this dramatic rescue,” Mr Haven said.

“They continue to play an extremely important role in surf life saving whenever they are tasked through our emergency system to aid in an incident.”

Photograph: The Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue vessel.

Credit: Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue Facebook

Thu 2 Apr 2015