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A Surf Life Saving NSW Emergency Rescue Beacon (ERB) was successful in alerting first responders to a man washed from rocks at Fingal Head on the Far North Coast this morning. The fisherman was picked up in challenging surf conditions near the rocks at Dreamtime Beach by Australian Lifeguard Service lifeguards aboard a jetski.

The incident happened around 8.30am Sunday when Police advised Surf Life Saving that the rockfisher was in the water, fully clothed with no lifejacket. Duty Officers from the Far North Coast Branch were activated along with the lifeguards at Kingscliff.

The man was swept south around the headland and just before 9am a surfer activated the ERB at Dreamtime Beach, speaking to the SLSNSW State Operations Centre operator to tell them he could see the man in the water.

Shortly after, lifeguards Ty McCartney and Cody Bell arrived on a jetski and were directed by Police and the public on the headland to the location of the man in the water.

“It took us about 10 minutes to get up there from Kingscliff,” said Ty. “We’d just arrived for work and turned the radios on when we heard the job was going on.

“To start with I couldn’t see where he was and I was trying to steer the ski with one hand and hold onto the Angel Ring the Police boat had given me with the other hand.”

After locating the man, Ty had to wait several minutes to get a break in the 4-foot surf to get to the man.
“He was getting washed constantly up the rocks and getting pushed back down. I just had to time it right. Finally he was far enough off the rocks that I could get in and grab him. I got more lucky than anything.”

The rockfisher had been in the water at least 30 minutes by then and was still clinging to his fishing rod.

“The second time I went in I grabbed him and he got on the back of the sled. His rod broke though as we pulled him up. He was exhausted and had inhaled some water, but he was alright.” The man was transported to hospital.

Ty thanked the local surfers who were close by and had been holding up the man in the water until help arrived.

The ERB was installed at the unpatrolled Dreamtime Beach after numerous incidents involving swimmers and rockfishers in the Fingal Head area in recent years. The beacon directly connects a member of the public to the SLSNSW State Operations Centre in the event of an emergency and has a camera to assist the operator see what is unfolding on scene.

Sunday 29 May 2022