On Monday 2 December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented National Rescue of the Month Awards to NSW volunteer surf lifesavers at a function in Canberra’s Parliament House.
Surf lifesavers from Kiama, Elouera, Palm Beach and Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Clubs were among those recognised for their brave and selfless actions.
The Prime Minister hosted the function to honour the commitment, bravery and achievement of volunteer surf lifesavers across Australia. The awards recognised outstanding rescues performed between July and October this year.
“I want to say thank you very much, for everyone across the surf life saving movement. You keep Australians safe and you do it as one of the most wonderful traditions of our country,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
The event was also attended by the Co-Chairs of Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving, Jason Falinksi MP, Member for Mackellar, and the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Member for Kingsford Smith, with a host of other Federal MPs also in attendance.
Federal Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, also attended the event and congratulated the National Rescue Medal recipients.
Jemima McGahey from Palm Beach surf club was in Canberra to receive an award. She said that she, and fellow Mona Vale SLSC lifesaver Alex Taylor, were honoured to be recognised for the recent, multiple rescues they performed at Seven Mile Beach near Forster in October.
Bradley Dawson and Toby Streamer, who are both from Kiama SLSC, were also in Canberra to receive a National Rescue Medal. They were presented with a medal for the rescue of a rock fisher at Kiama’s Little Blowhole in August.
Peter Meletopoulo and Glenn Cairncross from Elouera SLSC in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, were presented with a national award for the rescue of a swimmer at Cronulla. They were clearly humbled to have been presented with the National Rescue Medal.
Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales, said that it was testament to the important role NSW surf lifesavers play, even during the winter months, in keeping the community safe on our coastal waterways.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our members who received medals. The National Rescue Medal is one of the top honours that can be bestowed upon surf lifesavers. It’s fitting recognition of the efforts and actions of today’s award-winners who have all saved lives on the NSW coastline,” said George Shales.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Rescue Medals are an initiative that recognises the courageous and outstanding achievements of our surf lifesavers and members on our coastal waterways.
National Rescue Medal Recipients – NSW
Peter Meletopoulo and Glenn Cairncross
On Saturday 12 October 2019, Peter Meletopoulo and Glenn Cairncross took a Bronze Medallion training group to Cronulla. While outlining the water activities for the training group, Peter and Glenn noticed members of the public were struggling to return to shore nearby. Peter quickly paddled out to the group and assisted the person most in need.
While the other swimmers were able to return to shore, Peter managed to help the struggling swimmer part way in when the swimmer thought he could return to shore himself. However, the swimmer quickly got himself into trouble again. Peter paddled back out to the swimmer and attempted to secure him on the board. Due to exhaustion and the surf conditions, both Peter and the swimmer were washed towards the rock pool.
Glenn lost sight of the two and went to the rock pool where he saw Peter and the swimmer clamber over the pool wall. Glenn swam across the pool to Peter and assessed that the swimmer was uninjured, however Peter had sustained injuries during the rescue. Glenn then assisted Peter out of the pool and administered first aid.
This rescue highlights skills and courage required under duress and the value of working as a team.
Rhys Dawson, Bradley Dawson and Toby Streamer
On Sunday 4 August 2019, a 58-year-old rock fisher was fishing at Little Blowhole, Kiama when he fell into the water. He was fully clothed and was wearing a lifejacket and fishing cleats. The rock fisher was in the water for an hour before passers-by noticed him in considerable distress and called Triple Zero.
The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre was contacted by Police and mobilised several assets including the South Coast Branch volunteer Duty Officer Rhys Dawson and the Kiama SLSC callout team.
Bradley Dawson and Toby Streamer from Kiama SLSC responded to the incident, quickly launching an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB). Rhys was able to direct the IRB to the rock fisher who was found floating 400 metres off East Beach headland. Due to the rough conditions, the fisherman was transported to East Beach for treatment by ambulance crews.
Had it not been for the fast response, readiness of the assets and the skill in navigating the IRB in rough conditions, the likely outcome would have been loss of life.
Mona Vale SLSC & Palm Beach SLSC
Alex Taylor and Jemima McGahey
On the 2019 October long weekend, Alex Taylor, Jemima McGahey and friends were camping at the Ruins campground in the Booti Booti National Park south of Forster when they were alerted to people struggling in a rip. Alex immediately assessed the situation and swam out to a swimmer who was struggling to stay afloat. Alex’s friend paddled a longboard out to the pair and assisted them back to shore.
The next day at the same rip, four people needed rescuing. Jemima, Alex and friends were called on again to assist and rescue the swimmers. Two people in trouble were able to be assisted back to the beach using their own body boards however, two others had been swept further out to sea. The rescuers paddled the longboards out to the struggling swimmers, assisted them onto the boards and back to the shore. After swallowing water during the ordeal, the victims were monitored until they could be assessed by paramedics.
The action of the surf lifesavers and the friends who had surf lifesaving training averted what would have been a tragic outcome for this group.
Wednesday 4 December 2019