Bulli Surf Lifesavers Win National And State Award

The courageous efforts by a patrol team from Bulli SLSC to rescue six swimmers who had been dragged 100 metres out to sea last month have seen the club win the National and NSW Rescue of the Month.

On Sunday 6 December at around 1:30pm, a large wave barrelled through the middle of the red and yellow flags and dispersed a large group of swimmers, pushing six males north into a rip. On this day there were multiple strong currents and a 2-3 metre swell that was causing havoc for swimmers and lifesavers at Bulli Beach.

“It was a busy day and at that time there were around 100 swimmers between the flags and we had fairly strong rips either side,” patrol member Dean Dudley said.

Lifesaver Kiah Taylor noticed the large wave sweep through and drag the swimmers out into deeper water, and it soon became apparent that they were in some difficulty. Dean Dudley was nearby and ran to the northern flag, grabbed a rescue tube and entered the water with Kiah following on a rescue board.

“All of this happened so quickly, the patrol saw me enter the water and they all followed. The teamwork shown by the patrol was amazing, we had three boards in the water - two were rescue boards and Morgan had my personal board,” Mr Dudley said.

Not too far behind and also on rescue boards were Morgan Richards and Kaimana Fittock who had paddled out to help the swimmers. Kiah attempted to rescue the most distressed swimmer but was hampered by the man resisting her efforts in his panic to stay afloat.

Dean swam over and swapped rescue equipment with Kiah but he too faced difficulties calming the swimmer before eventually managing to get him to shore with the assistance of Stuart Brown.

Kaimana had her board overturned as she was trying to retrieve three of the struggling swimmers, but fortunately she was assisted by Zara Sharman who swam out to assist. Kaimana and Zara worked together to return three males to shore. Grahame Bilton entered the water without any equipment and headed towards the remaining two swimmers in distress.

“It was a matter of necessity that Zara and Grahame entered the water without any equipment. In Graham’s case, he didn’t have access to any equipment so what he did was particularly important and Zara acted on her instincts and provided invaluable assistance,” Dean Dudley said.

Morgan Richards had retrieved one of the remaining swimmers on her board and directed Grahame to the final swimmer while Kiah followed. Grahame arrived first and calmed the swimmer down so that Kiah could secure a rescue tube to the man and bring him to shore through the large swell.

Meanwhile, Dean was continuing to return his swimmer to shore when a 2 metre wave broke on them pushing the male down the wave, where he was within reach of Stuart Brown. Daniel St George arrived on scene in the IRB and did a sweep of the area to ensure there were no swimmers still struggling and remained in the water until all six swimmers were safely on shore.

“This was an old-school, old-fashioned rescue and we did whatever we could to bring the six swimmers to shore. In hindsight I would’ve launched the IRB sooner but it all happened so quickly and the first instinct was to get out there and keep the swimmers above water and wait for help to arrive, which it did,” Dean Dudley added.

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

Mon 1 Feb 2016