Warriewood and Avalon Beach Win National and NSW Rescue of the Month

Warriewood and Avalon Beach lifesavers have been awarded the National and NSW Rescue of the Month for May/June after rescuing a rock fisherman who fell five metres onto rocks at Warriewood Beach on 27 June 2015. This takes the NSW tally to nine out of ten National awards for the 2014/15 season.

The Avalon Beach Masters Women surfboat crew with Russell Lamb from Warriewood as sweep, were rowing off Warriewood at 7.20am on Saturday 27 June when they saw a rock fisherman fall more than five metres onto rocks and roll partly into the water.

When he wasn't moving, Bev Tilbury and Kate Munro jumped into the water and swam over to the rock platform with a rescue tube. The remaining two rowers, Kerry McEwan and Donna Wishart along with the sweep, Russell Lamb headed back to the beach to raise the alarm and launch the IRB.

Police and Ambulance were called and the IRB with Russell and Kerry sped back out around the headland with first aid, spinal board and oxygen gear and Kerry left the IRB to swim over to the rocks to assist. Warriewood Club Captain Jen Spencer paddled a rescue board around to the accident site to assist, while Donna manned the radio, coordinating comms with the State Operations Centre, emergency services and the IRB.

The four lifesavers secured the man onto a spinal board, stabilised the patient and waited for help as it was thought too risky to try to get the man into the IRB with possible spinal injuries.

He was in a lot of pain, groaning and shivering from shock. It was impossible to walk him out either because they were trapped under a rocky overhang.

For more than an hour the members tried to comfort and reassure the patient until the Ambulance helicopter arrived and a paramedic was winched onto the rocks, secured the patient in a stretcher then winched him aboard the aircraft.

The man was wearing a lifejacket, but was extremely lucky the crew were out training and were able to reach him so quickly. He sustained fractures to his wrists, pelvis and scapula and received surgery the next day.

The rowers sustained minor cuts and bruises getting onto the rock platform and two of the lifesavers were also suffering from mild hypothermia as they were clad only in swimmers and light tops for the entire length of the rescue operation.

The rescue was a good example of a combined effort from lifesavers from two clubs and the rock fisherman was extremely lucky the surfboat crew was out training and able to respond.

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.

Fri 24 Jul 2015