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Tragedy was averted on the state’s Far South Coast on Sunday when a paddle boarder was winched to safety in a dramatic rescue effort.

Just after 3pm yesterday, the State Operations Centre was alerted by Police of a stand-up paddle boarder in distress off Moruya Heads.

The 40-year-old who had not been wearing a life jacket had been witnessed by a member of the public struggling to get back to shore in what was proving to be challenging conditions.

It was later discovered that he had been battling the strong westerly winds for around 2 hours before he was spotted, lost his paddle, and had suffered some damage to his craft.

Responding to the incident were assets including the Westpac Lifesaving Helicopter, members of both Broulee Surfers and Moruya SLSC’s emergency call out team, a Far South Coast Duty Officer, and the Far South Coast Branch Support Jet Ski.

Two Inflatable Rescue Boats from the clubs were launched but ultimately it was decided that it was too risky to carry out an on-water rescue after the man had drifted approximately one kilometre offshore.

The most practical way to rescue the stranded paddle boarder was to winch him to safety on the helicopter. He was transported back to the base where he was assessed by Paramedics.

Despite suffering obvious fatigue and the first signs of hypothermia he recovered quickly with the use of a trusted remedy; the hot shower; and no further treatment was required.

Far South Coast Duty Officer Andrew Edmonds said that the incident highlighted the importance of a co-ordinated response when dealing with an on-water emergency.

“The member of the public was unsure if the paddle boarder was in distress but ultimately decided he was and alerted the authorities. Thankfully he did that as this incident could have ended very differently, and he does deserve full credit for looking out for the man’s welfare.

“It was our second job in 3 days in the area (after assisting in a search operation last Friday) but what it does prove is our process is very strong,” said Mr Edmonds.

“Despite it not being the season yet all our assets worked well together, knew their jobs and acted professionally as part of the larger operation. It gives us great confidence in the capabilities of our lifesavers, and we’re delighted that the paddle boarder will make a successful recovery.”

General Safety Tips During Dangerous Surf Conditions:

  • Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves

  • Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags. See BeachSafe for patrolled locations/times

  • Check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities

  • Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket

  • If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero – Police


Monday 4 September 2017