With summer in full swing the importance of being prepared for any on-water activity was underscored in dramatic fashion late last week after two tourists were rescued on the Central Coast following an incident on stand up paddle boards.
A full-scale multi-agency response was initiated on Thursday afternoon after the State Operations Centre received reports of two missing stand up paddle boarders.
It is understood that the two British tourists had launched their craft at Canton Beach at around 11:30am and were planning a day on the water.
The couple were last sighted approximately an hour later and with the hours drifting by there was concern for their welfare.
Police, Paramedics, the SES, and surf lifesavers from the local surf clubs and Central Coast Duty Officers all responded to the emergency.
The Westpac Life Saver Helicopter was also tasked to respond and provide aerial support.
Emergency services canvassed the area before being informed that a member of the public, who just happened to have a pair of binoculars handy, had spotted the stranded paddle boarders on Tuggerah Lake.
It was truly a fortuitous sighting as the combination of a strong wind, white top waves, and a setting sun made for an extremely challenging rescue.
While the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter hovered overhead, Toowoon SLSC Members Chris Fillingham and his son Ethan and the Wyong SES RHIBC crew of Matt le Clercq and Gavin Bale took to the water in Inflatable Rescue Boats.
Despite the conditions, the two IRBs were able to rescue the male and female paddlers and their craft before bringing them safely to shore a little before 6pm.
The grateful paddlers had been missing for more than 5 hours by this point and were suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and mild hypothermia but fortunately nothing too serious.
Neither were wearing lifejackets and during their ordeal they had even clung on to a buoy in the middle of the lake to conserve energy before being blown off in the wind.
Central Coast Duty Officer Tony Smith who was one of the many responders on scene said the paddlers were extremely fortunate.
“In this instance had the member of the public not been able to sight them this situation could have turned out very differently. They had no lifejackets, no form of communication and no water. It underscores the importance of being prepared for a day out on the water,” Mr Smith said.
“What this incident does highlight is how well trained and professional our emergency call-out teams are.
“They integrated seamlessly with the other agencies with everyone working together to pull off a very impressive rescue,” he said.
Sunday 9 December 2018