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A team of surf lifesavers from one of Sydney’s smallest clubs demonstrated tremendous professionalism and calmness under pressure to assist in the successful treatment and extraction of an injured man, and in the process claim the NSW Rescue of the Month Award for October.

Burning Palm SLSC members Annabel Braithwaite-Young, Chris Fogwell, Paul Cooper, Eloise Cooper, Eri Shinomoto, Terry Danne, Matthew Braithwaite-Young, Letitia Cooper, Elizabeth Feletar were gearing up for their regular patrol at around 10:15am on Saturday 15 October when a member of the public alerted them that their friend had fallen off a cliff near the famed Figure Eight Pools in Sydney’s south.

One of the challenges of this rescue was that the incident happened in an area that is extremely difficult to access. After trekking to the scene (which has no road access) the group found the man with severe injuries to his head, arm, legs, rib and back. It is believed that he fell from a height of between 5-10 metres.

Adding to complexity of the situation was that this season is Annabel Braithwaite-Young’s first as Patrol Captain but she rallied the rest of the patrol to not only take immediate control of the scene, but also ensure beach was still covered which including watching over the Nippers session.  

The first priority for the team was to establish radio communication with the State Operations Centre who would provide support especially in an area where maintaining signal strength is always a challenge.

They then worked on providing initial first aid to the man who was in a distressed state. During this time they kept him calm and administered oxygen while also providing regular radio updates on his condition.

An additional duty for the lifesavers was to manage the crowds and prepare the area for extraction. This was particularly important for when the helicopter landed as some witnesses were in danger of getting too close.

Patrol Captain Annabel Braithwaite-Young was proud of the efforts of her team to manage what was an extremely challenging situation.

“I really want to acknowledge how well our team worked together especially our two young bronze medallion girls Eloise Cooper and Eri Shinomoto who really stepped up. Everyone played their part but the treating doctors were able to use them like 20 year veterans and they deserve this recognition.

“We were also extremely lucky that Gary Daly was on the beach and he was able to offer his advice and experience,” Braithwaite-Young said.

As one of the smaller clubs in the movement the rookie Patrol Captain said to win Rescue of the Month means a great deal.

“It’s our first ever Rescue of the Month to my knowledge and as one of only two clubs in NSW you can’t drive to we do have a number of challenges that some other clubs never experience.

“Over the course of the 4 hours or so that this incident took place I couldn’t be prouder of how the team performed. I always say to people we’re a bushwalking loving club with a great beach as well. So to win this award it’s very humbling and I’m glad we could all play our part in helping extract the patient,” she said.

The SLSNSW Rescue of the Month is a prestigious award that recognises excellence in Surf Life Saving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners are eligible for the National Rescue of the Month, and are also in line to be named the NSW Rescue of the Year which is announced at the season-ending Awards of Excellence.


Tuesday 21 November 2017