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A rock fisherman is lucky to be alive, thanks to a lifejacket and a fast response by volunteer lifesavers from Kiama Surf Life Saving Club.

On Sunday 4 August, a 58-year-old male was fishing at Little Blowhole, Kiama when he lost his footing and fell into the water.

Passers-by were alerted to the incident by the man’s brother, who was unable to notify emergency services himself because he could not speak English. They immediately called Triple zero (000).

It is believed that the male rock fisher was in the water for an hour before emergency services were notified. He was fully clothed and was wearing a lifejacket and fishing cleats.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre was notified of the incident by Police and tasked the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter, South Coast Branch volunteer Duty Officer, the Kiama Jet Rescue Boat Service and the Kiama SLSC callout team to respond.

Two lifesavers from Kiama SLSC, Bradley Dawson and Toby Streamer, responded to the incident, quickly mobilising an inflatable rescue boat (IRB). They soon located the man floating 200 metres off East Beach headland.

“The man was extremely cold but very appreciative when we found him. He was wearing an approved life jacket but had been in the water for over an hour,” said Brad Dawson from Kiama SLSC.

“He told us he’d been fishing on the rocks when his rod got jammed. He overbalanced and fell into the water,” said Brad.

The man was taken to East Beach for treatment. Multiple ambulances were dispatched to the incident and paramedics treated the rock fisherman for mild hypothermia and water ingestion.

“The lifejacket he was wearing definitely saved him. It would have been impossible to tread water for an hour in those conditions,” said lifesaver Toby Streamer.

A police officer also sustained injuries, including a broken leg while attempting to locate the fisherman on the rock platform. The volunteer lifesavers and the NSW Fire Brigade treated the police officer before paramedics arrived.

Conditions were hazardous at the time of the incident with large sea swells hitting the NSW coastline. Surf Life Saving NSW and the Bureau of Meteorology had issued hazardous surf warnings for the weekend.

Kiama Blowhole Rescue
Emergency service teams at Kiama's Little Blowhole during the rock fisher rescue

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce commended the response of local surf lifesavers saying that had it not been for their fast response and the fact the man was wearing a life jacket, there may have been a very different outcome.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of checking the weather conditions before rock fishing. Please stop and think before putting yourself, your friends and family and our first responders in danger,” said Steve Pearce.

Coincidently, both of the Kiama lifesavers who rescued the rock fisher are in the running for major recognition awards at the upcoming annual Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence. Brad Dawson has been nominated for the prestigious Port Authority Surf Lifesaver of the Year and Toby Streamer is a finalist for Youth Volunteer of the Year.

Since 1 July 2018, 45 people have drowned on the NSW coastline. Nine of these drownings occurred as a result of rock fishing.

Rock Fishing Safety Tips

  • Check the weather, surf conditions and tides before going fishing

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back

  • Always wear a lifejacket

  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing

  • Always fish with a friend

  • Check the warnings signs for information about the area

  • Never turn your back to the water

  • Do not try and retrieve anything that has fallen into the water

  • Do not jump in if someone falls into the water - wait for assistance or throw an ‘Angel Ring’ or Lifebuoy if there is one nearby

  • Additionally, boaters are urged to always check conditions prior and to log on with their local Marine Rescue Base via radio or using the Marine Rescue App. Visit for more information

  • Call Triple Zero – Police to report an in-water emergency.


Monday 5 August 2019