Pottsville Lifeguards Rescue Injured Surfer

Lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service on the New South Wales Far North Coast put their professional first aid skills to good use when they helped prevent a man from becoming a quadriplegic.

The early morning tranquility of a patrol at Pottsville Beach on Saturday 17 January was broken in the worst possible manner when local man Gerard Bisshop got into difficulty after injuring his neck in the surf.

Shortly before 11:30am lifeguards Fletcher Kenny, Paul Piccini and Ryan Rigney noticed that Mr Bisshop was in trouble.

Springing into action, and not wanting to cause any further damage they worked as a team to stabilise his injuries.

“One of the lifesavers did a great job holding my head in his hands the entire time, to make sure there was no more movement.

“I am sure that would have been very difficult, and they even took the care to bring their beach shelter to protect me from the sun,” Mr Bisshop said.

Later scans at the hospital revealed that Mr Bisshop had suffered significant neck injuries.

“After CAT scans and treatment at the Tweed and Southport hospitals, I was released the following day with a neck brace for the next three months.

“The neurosurgeon was amazed that with so much damage I did not have more symptoms, and that I could easily have left hospital as a quadriplegic or in a halo brace with screws into my skull,” he said.

The prompt actions of the lifeguards highlight the importance of knowing the correct first aid procedures for treating suspected neck and spinal injuries.

Australian Lifeguard Service Coordinator Brent Manieri has urged beachgoers to continue to be vigilant of potential hazards such as shallow water and sandbars at the states’ many beaches.

“We have had multiple incidents recently where people have experienced neck and spinal injuries while surfing and swimming.

“Lifeguards are fully trained to deal with these situations, and we are delighted with the care and expertise that was delivered to the patient to achieve a positive outcome,” Mr Manieri said.

Mr Bisshop praised the professionalism and efforts of everyone involved in his rescue and subsequent medical care. He is currently recuperating at home and is expected to make a full recovery.

Wed 28 Jan 2015