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A daring rescue off One Mile Beach in Forster in June has been praised by Lower North Coast Director of Lifesaving, Nathan De Rooy due to the high level of inter-agency cooperation between Surf Life Saving and NSW Police. 

The rescue has received the Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month award.

At approximately 2.15pm on 18 June 2023, a concern for welfare at Bennetts Head – a popular lookout on the northern corner of One Mile Beach – called for assistance in securing a man who was threatening self-harm on the exposed cliff face. The man was known to local police.

Members of the Forster SLSC callout team and Lower North Coast Support Operations, Nathan de Rooy, Bruce Higgs, Joe Williams, Beth Lee, John Quinn, and Greg Randall, arrived on scene as the man began to scale down the cliff using a path carved through the landscape.

“Not many people rock fish from this spot, it’s quite dangerous to get to actually,” Nathan said.

Initially, the man positioned himself on a rocky platform, before jumping into the water and swimming into a nearby cave.

“There were crystal clear skies, no wind and the water was dead flat so risk was pretty low,” Nathan continued.

“The man had worked his way into a little air pocket in the cave as the tide was coming in, so with the change of tide he probably only had half an hour before he’d be properly stuck.

“We hadn’t really done a rescue like it, but we had to act quickly.”

A plan was devised to safely extricate the man from the cave using Surf Life Saving assets and an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) was considered the best option to enter the narrow cave. NSW Police accompanied surf life saving volunteers, Beth Lee and Greg Randall into the cave, with a second IRB on scene as backup, and successfully rescued the man from his precarious position.

Returning to base, the IRBs also collected police officers from the rock platform as rising tides had made it difficult to return to the top of the cliff that the man had climbed down.

Nathan praised the positive collaboration of emergency service agencies which allowed for a seamless rescue.

“The relationship we have with all agencies here is second to none, many of their resources all come from Newcastle, so they rely on surf assets heavily for quick response,” he said.

“When they see there’s a need for us, they don’t hesitate to call.”

Wednesday 2 August 2023