SLSNSW November Rescue of the Month

The Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month has been awarded to both Dale Laverty of the Australian Lifeguard Service and volunteer lifesavers from Merewether SLSC.

Dale Laverty - ALS

On Wednesday 27 November 2013 at around 2pm, the Surf Rescue Emergency Response System was activated with reports of a swimmer in distress at Fingal Bay, near Port Stephens. Although a very experienced lifeguard, it was only Laverty's third day at Fingal Bay when he was tasked by SurfCom to respond to the incident, over 100m north of the red and yellow patrol flags.

Being the only lifeguard on duty, Laverty navigated his way to the patient in very challenging conditions. The patient was unconscious and face down in the water. Laverty secured the patient and commenced CPR on the rescue board before heading to shore.

After successfully negotiating the waves and the 15 minute paddle with the unconscious patient on the board, Laverty was met by two Police officers and a friend of the patient, who assisted with lifting the patient above the high tide mark.

Resuscitation equipment including the defibrillator and oxygen were used. Laverty continued delivering CPR for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived. The Hunter Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived on scene and sadly pronounced the patient deceased.

While it was a tragic outcome, it was a good team effort and Laverty’s individual skills were highly praised by attending emergency services personnel.

Merewether SLSC

Robert Dan, Nick Newton, Richard Taylor and Charlie Harrison from Merewether SLSC and Ross Blatchford from Redhead were acknowledged for their exceptional rescue efforts of two people in November.

At about 6pm on Wednesday 13 November 2013, a group of Merewether surf lifesavers were gathered in the training room when they noticed two people in the surf. It was high tide with messy surf conditions developing from a four foot swell and 10 knot south-east wind.

Both swimmers were distressed and clinging to one body board as they started to move out to sea in a rip. Lifesaver Robert Dan responded first with a rescue tube, backed up by lifesavers Richard Taylor and Nick Newton on rescue boards. Halfway to the patient, Richard rolled his board under a large dumping wave which dislocated his finger and tore the board from his grip. He made his way back to the beach in time to meet Nick, who had already rescued an eight year-old girl and paddled her in safely to shore.

Meanwhile, 14 year-old Merewether SRC member Charlie Harrison, who had been surfing nearby, realised the seriousness of the situation and retrieved Richard’s washed up rescue board. After a briefing with Ross Blatchford, Harrison tackled the difficult surf and assisted Robert who was towing the second patient with a rescue tube towards the safety of a sandbank. The lifesavers assisted the patient safely through the shore dump. An initial assessment established that no further medical treatment was required.

During this rescue, Ross maintained surveillance and was crucial in signaling to the lifesavers the location of the patient and the safest path back to the beach through the break zone.

This rescue demonstrated exceptional teamwork by all involved and almost certainly prevented a tragedy.

The SLSNSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at both Branch and State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners become finalists for the SLSNSW Rescue of the Year which is presented at the annual Awards of Excellence.

Rescue of the Month recipients at state level receive a $400 Surf Store credit, a pair of waterproof binoculars, a plaque and a framed citation.

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

Thu 19 Dec 2013