Successful resuscitations in the Illawarra and on the Northern Beaches, and a unique rescue in which a member of the public engaged the Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC) during a double rescue on the Mid North Coast have highlighted a very busy Christmas Day on our beaches for volunteer lifesavers.

As a somewhat muggy start to the day in many parts of the state gave way to a hot and sunny afternoon, lifesavers and lifeguards were smashed with beachgoers visiting the coastline in huge numbers.

The first of two successful resuscitations occurred at Stanwell Park at around 2.15PM when a semi-conscious 15-year-old male was pulled from the water by lifesavers.

CPR was performed immediately and once the male was conscious again, he was transferred to the care of NSW Ambulance.

Further north and a few hours later, lifesavers successfully resuscitated a man who had been pulled from the water face-down by Rescue Water Craft at Palm Beach around 4.45PM.

While the 30-year-old remained unconscious following CPR, the man was breathing within 2-3 minutes and was eventually airlifted from the scene by the Careflight Helicopter a little before 5.30PM in a stable condition.

Elsewhere, at Valla Beach, north of Nambucca Heads, the SOC was alerted to an unfolding incident just after 3PM through an uncommon radio transmission – “Hello, is anyone there?”

A member of the public was on the other end, having been handed a radio by on-duty lifeguards who had entered the water to perform a rescue.

The member of the public spoke the SOC through the situation – which beach they were at, how many people were in the water and their condition – which allowed for appropriate decisions to be made regarding supporting resources.

The end result was the successful rescue of two people by lifeguards.

As at 6.00PM, volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards had made 60 rescues, performed 2,809 preventative actions, and 22 ambulances had been called to incidents. These numbers are expected to rise significantly once flags come down and all incidents become logged.

“Today has been a very busy day for lifesavers up and down the coast and for many of us it is still going,” SLSNSW CEO, Steve Pearce said.

“I’ve seen first-hand just how packed our beaches have been as a patrolling member myself and I am so proud of how our volunteer lifesavers have performed under pressure today.

“Two successful resuscitations is testament to the world-class training and education lifesavers are subjected to and thanks to our volunteers, many people return home with their families tonight that under other circumstances may not have.”

Last year across the state, the period between December 2021 and February 2022 claimed the record for the most coastal and ocean drowning deaths over a summer, with 25 fatalities recorded in NSW, despite the higher than usual rainfall from La Niña and reduced beach attendances.

In NSW, drowning deaths are 2.7 times more likely to occur on a public holiday and 1.6 times more likely during school holidays. The end of year break, often coupled with celebrating with family and friends, can create a perfect storm.

“The statistics really show a need to push the critical surf safety messaging that SLSNSW works year-round to spread through our communities,” Steve said.

“The most important things to do when considering entering the water is to do so at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.”

Volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards are prepared for another busy day tomorrow, with Boxing Day also expect to see beachgoers flock to the coastline.

Sunday 25 December 2022