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A weekend adventure near Lake Macquarie almost turned to tragedy with four swimmers needing to be rescued after becoming stranded in a cave on Sunday.

It is understood that the small group made of teenagers and young adults set off to explore the cave on Pinnys Beach at around noon.

Exploring the cave is a popular recreational activity in the area though conditions can sometimes catch visitors unaware, particularly if time begins to get away.

By the mid-afternoon the group realised they were in trouble as the cave slowly began to fill with water on the changing tide.

Fortunately one of the group was able to get out of the cave on a boogie board where he was able to call for help on a mobile phone.

This prompted a large response from a number of emergency services including police, paramedics, and surf lifesaving assets.

Despite it being the off-season, a large number of volunteers responded to the call with Caves Beach and Catherine Hill Bay both preparing IRBs. Duty Officers and the Hunter Support Jet Ski also attended and set up a command post.

One of the challenges of the incident was the rapidly fading light.

Speed was certainly of the essence and with that in mind Caves Beach SLSC were the ones who would ultimately respond due to their proximity to the scene.

Conditions remained calm enough for the team to approach within 5 metres of the cave and utilising both the Jet Ski and IRB, four people were rescued and ferried to land.

Once on the safety of the shore the group was assessed by paramedics and despite the exhaustion and feeling very cold none required further treatment.

What the incident does highlight is the importance of being aware of your environment, and having access to as much information as possible including tidal changes.

The prompt response of all attending assets and impressive coordination in regards to communication certainly played a significant role in the eventual successful outcome of this rescue.

General Beach Safety Tips

  •   Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website

  •   Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

  •   Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

  •   If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

  •   In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

  •   Don’t forget to be sun safe by remembering to: Slip on some protective clothing, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Slide on a pair of sunglasses, Seek some shade and Sip on lots of water to stay hydrated.

  •   For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.

Tuesday 29 May 2018