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Local man praises the prompt intervention of surf lifesavers as well as the vigilance of a concerned member of the public on the Mid-North Coast. The Taree paddle boarder will be working at his dentist practice on Monday and not on his way across the Tasman after getting into difficulty at Forster yesterday afternoon.

At around 4pm on Sunday the State Operations Centre received reports of a paddle boarder in distress off Bennetts Headland. A member of the public witnessed the man’s futile struggle to paddle against the gale-force winds and alerted authorities.

Within minutes the call-out team from Forster SLSC had received notification and gathered at their club house ready to launch their rubber duck in deterioriating conditions.

Gavin Williams and Simon Lee were tasked to crew the Inflatable Rescue Boat, while Club Captain Bruce Higgs, Anthony Harris and Greg Randall were all on hand to assist in the launch and to provide first-aid if necessary.

Forster’s President John Quinn, and Lower North Coast Duty Officers Brian and Julie Wilcox as well as the Branch Director of Lifesaving Nathan De Rooy were also in attendance and hopeful of a speedy resolution to the incident.

The lifesavers in the IRB were able to spot the paddle boarder within minutes of commencing their search, and the exhausted man very grateful to accept a lift back to the safety of the beach.

After a brief medical check by paramedics and a hot shower, he was released with both a clean bill of health and a story to tell.

The incident is a timely reminder of how lifesavers are always on duty and reinforces the great work of members even in the offseason.

“What this incident highlights is the importance of the call-out team and having a system where everyone knows their roles,” said Lower North Coast Branch Duty Officer Julie Wilcox.

“Within minutes of receiving the call our team was out on the water and commencing their search. We received great support from the other agencies including Police, Paramedics, and Marine Rescue NSW who also raced to the scene.

“It’s great to have that co-operation between assets as we all work together for a successful outcome, which on this occasion we are fortunate to have as it wasn’t a great day to be on the ocean. There’s a lot of water between here and New Zealand,” she said.

It is understood that the man had launched his craft from Tuncurry earlier in the afternoon before getting into immediate trouble when he realised the winds were too strong to paddle against.

He was not wearing a lifejacket at the time.


Monday 20 August 2018