Jerrad Allen from Pacific Palms SLSC and member of the Lower North Coast Support Operations team has attended many incidents and performed countless rescues since gaining his Bronze Medallion in 1992. This one was particularly significant for the volunteer surf lifesaver who had to assess, manage and perform a high-risk rescue single-handedly at an isolated beach.
It was 10.30 am on 3 October 2020 when Lower North Coast Duty Officer Jerrad Allen(42) was conducting a routine Rescue Water Craft (jetski) patrol of his local area when he noticed a large group swimming at the unpatrolled South Bluey’s Beach. It was only once he got there that Jerrad realised that all 11 swimmers were caught in a rip, and in serious trouble.
While this was a mass rescue, Jerrad calmly and professionally assisted each person, returning them to shore, before returning to collect the others.
After single-handedly returning all 11 swimmers safely, Jerrad evaluated the condition of all patients and deemed that first aid was not required.
Jerrad then spoke to the group and advised them on better swimming locations providing valuable beach safety information and advice on how to identify a rip, and what to do if they required assistance or how they could attempt to avoid or get themselves out of a rip.
“When I returned to the beach and spoke with the group I became aware that they didn’t even realise they were in a rip and moving quickly into a dangerous situation,” said Allen after the incident.
“Even though it was a beautiful clear day, the outcome could have been very different for this group if conditions changed. Blueys is a remote beach with a dangerous rip that many visitors to the area are unaware of,” he said.
Without the experience, training and calm manner demonstrated by Jerrad, a day at the beach could have ended in tragedy for a large group of swimmers.
The Lower North Coast Support Jetski 3 operates between Sharkeys north of Pacific Palms SLSC down to Boat Beach in the south but the team are frequently called out to incidents right down into the Seal Rocks and Treachery area that are all unpatrolled and increasingly popular for holiday-makers.
“We’ve seen a noticeable increase in visitors to the area this season, we’ve really been smashed as a club of only 30 patrolling members. We were anticipating it but it has been a tough summer,” said Allen who is also the President of the only volunteer-run surf club in the area. (Australian Lifeguard Service patrols Boomerang Beach over the Christmas holiday period only)
Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman said “had it not been for the swift actions of Jerrad this situation could have resulted in the loss of 11 lives. I commend Jerrad’s bravery and his incredible ability to stay calm and assist the entire group in a safe and efficient manner.”
In recognition of this rescue, Jerrad Allen has been awarded the Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month for October 2020.
“It’s great to receive recognition for this rescue,” said Allen. “I really enjoy being part of the Support Ops team and giving back. It’s a nice team to be part of and really supportive. I’m a big believer in giving back to the community and part of the club and the Support Ops team gives me the chance to keep improving my skills and being part of the bigger collaborative multi-agency team here in my community.”
Wiseman commented that despite a tough season so far with lockdowns and the uncertainty of the pandemic, the calibre of nominations for Rescue of the Month awards was fantastic.
“It’s so important to recognise the efforts of our volunteers and the way they go above and beyond to save lives, whether it be during patrols or our Support Operations and club callout teams,” he said.
“We encourage members, clubs and branches to continue to nominate their outstanding rescues each month.”
Thursday 18 February 2021