Two off-duty surf lifesavers who assisted in the successful resuscitation of a swimmer at Shelly Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches have been recognised for their efforts as January’s winners of the NSW Rescue of the Month Award.
It was a case of right place, right time North Steyne SLSC members Tracey Hare-Boyd and her son Trae who had to call upon all their skills and knowledge in what was a dramatic incident on January 5.
It was around 9am on that Friday and the pair had just finished a morning swim when they heard a scream and saw a man collapse on the edge of the water.
Instinct honed by their experiences as lifesavers kicked in and they immediately went to work by commencing CPR treatment.
While keeping bystanders clear of the scene, Trae was tasked to get a defibrillator from the club. He raced to the nearby Manly surf club to get the equipment and also alerted lifeguards to the unfolding incident.
As luck would have it the incident could not have happened in a more fortunate location. Off-duty health professionals including two nurses and an anaesthetist were breakfasting nearby and rushed over to offer their assistance when they saw what had occurred. In fact the two lifesavers were ultimately the only non-medical professionals on-scene, but their training and knowledge was such they were still able to assist in an effective way.
During the incident, which lasted an agonising 40 minutes, CPR treatment was rotated through several trained health professionals to ensure the first responders did not fatigue from their efforts.
Eventually an Ambulance helicopter was able to land nearby and after several cycles of the defibrillator and some thorough work from the attending paramedics, the man was stabilised sufficiently to be airlifted to hospital.
This story does have a happy postscript. After being flown to hospital in a critical condition, the patient went on to make a full recovery, and was even reunited with his rescuers.
Tracey Hare-Boyd said it was an honour to receive the award on behalf of her club, and that it was a reminder of how lifesavers never know when their skills will be needed.
“It’s a special moment to be able to do that rescue with Trae. We’ve done rescues together before but this is the first time that we’ve needed to do a CPR after hours,” said Tracey Hare-Boyd.
“I think what this should reinforce to all of our lifesavers, and it’s certainly a message I will be using in my training going forward, is that what we teach you isn’t just for the here and now they are skills for life.
“We were really just two of the many people involved that day and it was great that everybody came together on the common goal to get the best possible outcome for 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.
Monday 26 February 2018