Lifejacket Saves Fisherman At Avalon Beach

A decision to wear a lifejacket while rock fishing has proved a lifesaver for a man who narrowly escaped drowning at North Avalon headland on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old Chinese National who is not a confident swimmer was fishing at the popular spot when he was washed into the water just after midday.

Unable to get out he began screaming for help and was heard by a group of local surfers who were standing on the headland.

The surfers raced to their car to get their boards and paddled out to the man where they were able to drag him out of the water and onto the rock platform.

Due to limited access to the rockshelf, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to the scene to winch the man out with assistance from the Australian Lifeguard Service Pittwater Supervisor Brad Woodward.

“What today’s incident highlights is just how important it is to always wear a lifejacket while fishing. There’s no doubt it saved his life, and without it we would be talking about another fatality,” said ALS Pittwater Supervisor Brad Woodward.

“It’s worrying that this incident occurred just around the headland from where another fisherman sadly drowned at Whale Beach earlier this month. This is a popular rock fishing location, but like any exposed ocean fishing spot there are significant challenges and hazards.

“It was a team effort to get the man out. The local surfers did a great job keeping him calm and calling for help, while the helicopter crew conducted a smooth operation to winch him to safety,” Mr Woodward said.

The man was handed over to the care of paramedics and has been transported to hospital for observation.

It is understood that he was conscious and alert, but may have swallowed water during the incident.

There have been 44 rock fishing fatalities since 2011 including 8 who have drowned in NSW coastal waters this season.

General Rock Fishing Safety Tips:

• Check the weather, surf conditions and tides before going fishing
• Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
• Always wear a lifejacket
• Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing
• Always fish with a friend
• Check the warnings signs for information about the area – especially as there are no volunteer lifesavers on duty this time of the year
• Never turn your back to the water
• Do not try and retrieve anything that has fallen into the water
• Do not jump in if someone falls into the water - wait for assistance or throw an ‘Angel Ring’ or Lifebuoy if there is one nearby
• Additionally boaters are urged to always check conditions prior and to log on with their local Marine Rescue Base via radio or using the MarineRescue App see www.mrnsw.com.au for more information
• Call Triple Zero – Police to report an in-water emergency

Photographs - It was a picture perfect morning near North Avalon headland where the latest rock fishing rescue occurred (top). The 55-year-old was wearing a life jacket similar to this one pictured (middle). Emergency services wait to transport the man to hospital (below).

Wed 29 Jun 2016