North Steyne and Manly Lifesavers Win National Rescue Award

The combined efforts of lifesavers from North Steyne and Manly have been recognised with the prestigious National and NSW Rescue of the Month awards. The Sydney Northern Beaches trio revived a female swimmer who had been brought back to shore unconscious after being rescued by local boardriders.

The patrol had concluded when just after 6pm on Saturday 13 February, a local surfer, Danny Hamilton, was walking along the beach and noticed a family of four struggling in the water just south of North Steyne SLSC. He grabbed a surfboard which was lying on the beach and paddled out, fully clothed to rescue a man and boy. He was assisted by a young 12-year old surfing nearby who went to the aid of the mother and along with another surfer, brought her back to the beach. The fourth member of the family managed to get himself to shore.

Surf lifesaver Yao Xen Tan, who was still at the club, ran down the beach to assist. When Yao arrived, the woman was frothing at the mouth and unconscious so he acted quickly, instructing a member of the public to call Triple Zero while he commenced CPR. Yao conducted mouth to mouth while the member of the public who was also a registered nurse started chest compressions.

Nigel Kassulke from Manly LSC was also alerted to the incident and rushed to assist.

“I was cycling home from my patrol at Manly LSC in my uniform and a member of the public stopped me on the bike path and alerted me to the drama,” Nigel Kassulke said.

“The first thing was just to do what we could straight away which was 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths a minute as we are taught, and then we asked a member of the public to run up to the surf club and grab a defibrillator.”

After five cycles of CPR, very shallow breathing was detected. Another Manly lifesaver, Michele Kaye was flagged down on her bike and took over control of the woman’s head and airway in the recovery position while the patient vomited sea water.

Michele confirmed the patient was breathing but was still unconscious, and coordinated the responders to lift and carry the woman away from the water to dry sand. Michele monitored the patient’s breathing until paramedics arrived.

“Yao was terrific, he performed the breaths and in that situation it was quite difficult, so he did a great job,” Nigel Kassulke said.

“Michele also was outstanding looking after the swimmer’s husband and children who were unfortunately witnessing the scene on the beach.”

The surfers who rescued the woman said they first thought she was ‘playing around’ with her children. Onlookers said the actions of Danny and the 12 year-old surfer were crucial in saving the lives of the entire family. The woman was transported to hospital while Michele comforted the family who were understandably distressed.

“The swimmer was very lucky. It was a dreadful rip that she was caught in and it had been there for a week. I’m just happy the swimmer made a full recovery,” Nigel concluded.

The professionalism and skill shown by Yao at just 18 years of age, was praised by everyone involved. As the rescue and resuscitation was conducted outside patrol hours, the dedication shown by Nigel, Michele and Yao demonstrates that surf lifesavers are always ready to respond to any emergency situation.

The three surf lifesavers will be presented with their National Rescue of the Month award at Parliament House in Canberra on June 23.

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

Photo: Generic photo of surf lifesavers.

Wed 30 Mar 2016