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Surf lifesavers from the Birubi and Stockton clubs have successfully treated five members of the public averting what could have been a tragic start to the New Year.

Fortunately, the quick thinking of passersby, and the timely response from the lifesavers ensured that the situation didn’t escalate further.  

The incident occurred at an isolated part of Stockton Beach on New Year’s Day at just after 5pm,and approximately 2km South of Birubi Headland.

It is understood that a group of friends and family from Cabramatta were celebrating the dawn of 2018 Years Day when two members of their party were swept out of their depth in a rip current.

After witnessing the incident, a further three members of the group entered the water in a valiant, but unsuccessful attempt to go to the aid of the struggling swimmers. In short order all five people were now caught in the rip, but fortunately there were passersby who were able to perform a rescue and alert emergency services.

At their respective patrol locations some distance away, Birubi and Stockton volunteers were in the process of packing away for the day when they heard the call for assistance from the State Operations Centre.

Additionally Hunter Duty Officer Greg Dunkley was also tasked to attend the scene.

Once there it became apparent that the incident was serious with a number of injuries. Among the most serious was a 14-year-old female who was drifting in and out of consciousness and displaying signs of a possible spinal injury.

The lifesavers went to work treating all the patients for water immersion and providing oxygen as well as general first aid.

Due to the isolation of the area, the patients were then transported to a staging area with two seriously injured patients later transported to hospital.

“In my 20 plus years as a patrolling member I have never seen an incident of this scale, and the response from the Birubi and Stockton patrols was simply outstanding,” Duty Officer Greg Dunkley said after the incident.

An operational debrief with the members of both clubs has subsequently been conducted.

The drama occurred on the same day that Surf Life Saving New South Wales CEO Steven Pearce again issued a safety warning ahead of the New Year celebrations.

Tips on Staying Safe at the Beach during the New Year Period

  •   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 2 January 2018