Previous Winners

Each month areas recognise the best local rescue of the month and enters that outstanding rescue in the NZ Rescue of the Month award. There are six awards each season and the winners of the six Rescue of the Month awards will become finalists for the BP Surf Rescue of the Year presented in September.

Rescue of the Month awards 2019-2020 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2018-2019 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2017-2018 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2016-2017 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2015-2016 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2014-2015 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2013-2014 season
Resue of the Month awards 2012-2013 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2011-2012 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2010-2011 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2009-2010 season
Rescue of the Month awards 2008-2009 season

March 2012

Awarded to: Joanne Hobson, Carolyn Edwards, Shane Edwards, Sam Dwen, Mark Edwards, Bryce Nicholl, Joshua Higgie, Lewis Powell, Nikayla Poole, Robbie Shrimpton, Taylor Shrimpton, Torrie Shrimpton, Grace Poole
Club: Trust Waikato Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service
Date: 10 March 2012
Location: Sunset Beach, Port Waikato

The day's patrol had finished up and the Trust Waikato Sunset Beach club members were cleaning up the clubhouse. At 4.40pm, they were alerted by a member of the public to a group of six to seven people who had walked off the beach and straight into a massive fixed rip in front of the tower. The first two patients, who were the most distressed, were assisted by two lifeguards with a rescue board. The next patient, a 10-year-old girl, was rescued by a lifeguard swimmer. By this time the  group were no longer together as they had been swept out and isolated by  the rip. 

The most distressed patient was an eight year-old boy who had begun the "climb the ladder" process, suggesting he was near to going under. Two lifeguards with rescue tubes swam to his support. While the lifeguards kept the patients safe in the water, an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) was launched and picked up the 10-year-old girl who was being supported by one of our swimmers. The next pick up by the IRB was another nine-year-old boy who was being supported by two lifeguards. An adult who refused to take our direction was eventually assisted by lifeguards with tubes from the rip.

Once the patients were successfully rescued and out of the water, along with the lifeguards assisting, the lifeguards took the patients to the club rooms for hot showers, warm clothing, and further assessment. Other lifeguards went out to the car park to find the parents who had been absent from the entire incident. The eight-year-old boy, Ronganui Waterhouse from Tuakau, was assessed by the lifeguards and was responsive; however, he was starting to lose awareness of his surroundings. The lifeguards wrapped him in a hypothermia blanket and decided that he required oxygen. They were concerned about the condition of the boy so called Surfcom to send an ambulance from Pukekohe. By now the patient was slipping in and  out of consciousness and his breathing became raspy and eyes were vacant. He failed to answer questions about his name and address. The lifeguards continued to administer oxygen and monitor his vital signs for a period of 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. He was taken to Middlemore Hospital and kept overnight. He was sent home the next day.

Throughout the two hour period of the incident lifeguards used all of he rescue equipment within the club, including
equipment for the post rescue care. They firmly believe that two of the rescued would have drowned had they not responded to this after hours callout. A newly qualified guard and her son, who is a club rookie, helped to set up the first aid and radio system for the rescue. They also transported oxygen kits and hypothermia blankets to the beach for the patients. To further test the team, at approximately 6.00pm, during the rescue wind down, they were called out by a mother who had been missing her child for two hours. He was a special needs child and suffered from epilepsy. His medication was overdue and the mother was distressed. Lifeguards were sent to search the area in and around the beach and the hills behind the park. He was located in the hills behind the beach and returned to his mother where his medication was administered.  That search completed a very busy day for the club members.

February 2012

Awarded to: Logan Adams, Kris O'Neill, Duncan Buchanan, Tommy Cantrell, Sam Bassett, Aaron Young, Anaru Clarke, Tom Jacka, Sam Jenkins
Club: Regional Lifeguard Service, Piha
Date: 10 February 2012
Location: Piha beach

At just after 6pm on 10 February lifeguards Kris O'Neill and Tom Cantrell spotted four young men entering the water just south of Lion Rock. With the surf being large and rough, they were concerned. Kris jumped on the ATV and headed towards the men to advise them of the dangerous conditions. While en route, the four individuals stepped off into a hole. The hole was feeding a very fast moving rip and the men found themselves stuck in the current. Realising their predicament, they raised their hands for assistance. Kris quickly responded with a tube and fins.

From the Operations Room Patrol Captain Logan Adams radioed Tom advising him to respond. Tom headed with a paddleboard to assist. At the same time Logan notified Duncan Buchanan and Sam Basset and they launched an IRB. Kris reached three of the men, one being completely underwater, and pulled him up to the surface. He appeared unconscious.

Securing the patient with a tube, Kris suported the two other patients as best he could. Meanwhile Tom paddled out and helped stabilise the men while the IRB raced to pick up the patients. A local surfer also offered his board as a floatation device. On their way out, Duncan and Sam located the fourth distressed swimmer and pulled the conscious but exhausted man into the IRB. Upon reaching Kris, Tom, and the patients, Duncan and Sam tried to pull the semiconscious  patient who was holding on to Tom's paddleboard into the IRB. With a set fast approaching and the patient unwilling to let go of the board, the IRB had to move out past the break to ensure the safety of all involved. Kris managed to swim his patient out past the break while Duncan and Sam were able to pull a conscious patient into the boat safely. Meanwhile Tom and his semiconscious patient along with the surfer and his conscious patient were forced to brace for the oncoming waves. Tom and the surfer were able to secure their patients and use the leverage of their boards to push them closer to shore, and once the set passed, to stand and begin walking them out of the water. At this point Tom's semi-conscious patient became very week and needed assistance walking. The semi-conscious patient then informed Tom that he had gone unconscious a few times and had swallowed a fair amount of water. Tom immediately signalled for additional assistance.

Having spoken to Tom, Kris ran to the ATV to retrieve the oxygen and resuscitation pack. Tom, Kris, Duncan, and Sam administered oxygen, treated the patient for shock, minor hypothermia, and monitored vitals while Logan notified Surfcom of the situation. Surfcom dispatched an ambulance. The patient became nauseous and started throwing up, thus classifying him as a status two patient. As a result, Tom, Kris, and Duncan lifted the patient into the IRB and trailer for rapid transport off the beach. Once at the club, Tom, along with surf lifeguards Aaron Young and Tom Jacka carried the patient into the first aid room. Surfcom and the RLS supervisor then requested Westpac to respond as they were concerned that the patient could deteriorate. Once the patient was placed in the first aid bed, Tom Cantrell checked lung sounds and vitals. Tom was unable  to hear any water in the lungs. The patient was still cold, nauseous, pale, and had a rapid pulse with shallow but fast respirations. At this point St John First Response arrived on scene and joined in on administering care. Due to the great work already done by the lifeguards and speedy response by the Piha first response it was decided Westpac was not needed. 

Within 15 minutes of being placed in the first aid room the patient started showing signs of improvement. His pulse rate returned to a normal rating and his skin colour and skin temperature returned to a normal state. The patient was in  good spirit and smiling once the ambulance  arrived on scene. They administered further  advance care and transported the patient to the hospital for a more in depth check of the condition of his lungs and for any water that may still be present. 

Due to the rapid response, extensive knowledge  of the beach conditions, and thorough medical training the lifeguards involved had. An otherwise  certain fatality was prevented.

January 2012

Awarded to: Nathan Smith, Matt Strange, Hayden Halse, Mason Pickering, Hamish Smith
Club: Papamoa
Date: 6 January 2012
Location: Papamoa beach

On January 6, 2012, two children were  swimming 3.6 kilometres from the  Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club and had  become stuck in a flash rip. They were  dragged 250 metres offshore.

The children's caregiver called out to the public for help, as the children began  to struggle seriously. Two members of  the public swam out to assist, instructing  one of the swimmers to tread water, while the other swimmer supported the second child on his chest to keep him  afloat, but all four people in the water  became distressed. Consequently two  further members of the public swam out with a bodyboard to assist but also got  into difficulty.  Police contacted Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club and lifeguard Shaun Smith  deployed fellow lifeguards Hamish Smith  and Mason Pickering to take an IRB to  Kirk Patrick Place Beach Accessway (3.6 kilometres east of PSLSC). 

Meanwhile Nathan Smith, Matthew Strange and Hayden Halse were instructed to travel via Mule to the incident scene. The Mule arrived first and Hayden was able to perform a tube rescue, towing two of the members 70 metres back to the shore. Matthew swam out with a tube and fins towards the four swimmers who were  now 250 metres offshore and in need of  assistance while the IRB headed in the  same direction. The IRB then retrieved  the three swimmers who were struggling  the most and returned them to shore  while lifeguards Nathan and Hayden began first aid on the two most critical patients. Meanwhile, the IRB returned back to sea to pick up the last two patients that Matthew was assisting. Upon returning to shore Nathan, Hamish and Matthew continued to give first aid to the patients, administrating oxygen to patients who had taken on water and gone into shock. Meantime Shaun had contacted the ambulance and instructed lifeguard Campbell Halse to take the trauma pack to the scene. 

Hamish flagged down the ambulance and directed them to the scene. Paramedics took over care of the two most serious patients while lifeguards tended to the two other patients, administrating oxygen and treating for shock. Lifeguards then assisted paramedics to stretcher one patient to the ambulance while the other patient was also taken to hospital for treatment. They then assisted the other patients who by now were in a stable condition. All patients were successfully rescued thanks to the teamwork and quick thinking the lifeguards involved.

December 2011

Awarded to: Peter McInnes, Murray Dix
Club: Mangawhai Heads
Date: 14 December 2011
Location: Mangawhai Heads beach

On Wednesday 14 December 2011 in stormy surf with very strong north- easterly winds, Mangawhai Heads surf lifeguards Peter McInnes and Murray Dix were notified by local Police that three members of a group of 20 kayakers were in distress 100 metres offshore at Mangawhai Heads beach. The kayakers had capsized and were in the water huddled together in a dangerous 'hole' in the sea in front of the surf club. 

After assessing conditions a quick decision was made to use rescue boards rather than an IRB, and both Murray and Peter paddled out to where the distressed patients were. When the lifeguards reached them they pulled them onto their rescue boards, and Peter paddled one young male to shore while Murray remained with the other two. One patient, a young female, was completely exhausted and was fully submerged underwater when lifeguards arrived.

Peter had successfully paddled the first patient into shore then returned to assist Murray with the remaining two patients. Noticing the young girl was weak and struggling to hold onto the rescue board, Murray and Peter chose to link together and use two boards to return her and the other patient back to shore. Upon reaching the shore the young girl collapsed and needed to be carried to the clubhouse where oxygen was administered. The patient was kept warm and dry until Mangawhai First Response arrived on the scene. She was then transferred to Wellsford Medical Centre for observation.
If not for the quick and professional response of these two Mangawhai Heads Lifeguards the outcome could easily have been fatal.

November (winter) 2011

Awarded to: Kariaotahi Surf Life Saving patrol: Lee Lawrence (Patrol Captain), Shannon Benterman, Nathan Millar, Alex van Tilberg, Aaron Coe, Jim Coe, Eoin Elliott, Harry Delautour, Danielle Southcombe, Ben Coers, Dean Lawrence, Jessica Jackson, Cole Brackebush, Jemma Brackebush, Cameron Burrows, James Burton, Julie Roberts, Craig Wisneski, Mike Lawrence, Natasha Dickson, Kayla Tribe, Guy Hornblow (SurfCom).
Club:  Kariaotahi
Date:  24 October 2011, 1600
Location: Kariaotahi,  just north of the Waikato River mouth.

It was 1600, and lifeguards were packing up for the day when a member of the public rushed to the Kariaotahi clubhouse to say that they had seen two people in the water, calling for help. They were just north of the Waikato River mouth.

Patrol Captain Lee Lawrence immediately took command and instructed lifeguards Dean Lawrence, Nathan Millar, Cameron Burrows, Ben Coers, Craig Wisneski, Aaron Coe and Jim Coe to respond by towing an IRB to their last known position. Shannon Benterman contacted SurfCom (the operator was Kariaotahi lifeguard Guy Hornblow, who had a thorough knowledge of the location) and advised him of the situation. Guy, understanding the severity of the incident and knowing the terrain immediately contacted the Police and asked that they task the Westpac Rescue helicopter and Police helicopter. He advised Coastguard of the unfolding incident, and arranged for an ambulance to be dispatched, then phoned Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service to ask them to respond with an IRB to assist.

SurfCom advised Kariaotahi Head of Lifesaving Mike Lawrence of the situation so he could provide support to the lifeguards. By now, they had arrived on scene where Dean gathered additional information revealing that the situation was worse than thought - there were three people missing. Cameron and Nathan began the search in an IRB. Lifeguards conducting a site examination found two children in a car belonging to the three missing men. Jemma Brackebush and Jessica Jackson were dispatched to tow a second IRB with driver Harry Delautour (who only qualified as an IRB driver the week earlier) and Eoin Elliott as crewman to collect the two children. However members of the public had already started to transport the children back to the club so Jessica returned to the scene to help Dean, who instructed that the second IRB be launched. At this time two IRBs from Sunset Beach arrived and all four crews were briefed by Dean. They began a search in the surf break and Harry and Eoin spotted a person face down in the water. They signalled to the closest Sunset Beach IRB to do a pick up.

The crew retrieved the man who was unconscious. Craig and an off duty paramedic took control of the resuscitation attempt so Dean could focus on continuing the search. Throughout this time SurfCom and the Patrol Captain at the club were kept up to date. The helicopters were now on scene to assist with an aerial search. Lifeguards had managed to deliver a shock to the patient using the club's AED, and Westpac dropped its paramedic with further resuscitation equipment. The paramedic sadly pronounced the man deceased a short time later. The IRBs, helicopters and the Waiuku Coastguard continued the search. During this time the lifeguards found a number of items belonging to the missing men including a fishing net which was brought to shore and given to Police. The search continued until the helicopters became low on fuel. Police then advised the IRBs via SurfCom to make their way back to their clubs, searching on the way.

The Police helicopter refuelled and returned to the search area, with the club's IRBs on standby. Julie Roberts comforted the two children back at the club until their mother was able to get them. It was an extremely difficult situation given the likely outcome. Both clubs had a debrief, and were briefed on the following morning's plans. Ben, Lee, Nathan, Kayla Tribe and Shannon returned to the club the following morning to assist Police in a land and water search conducted with the assistance of LandSAR and the Police helicopter. Nothing was found. Ben, Lee, Nathan, Kayla, Shannon and Cameron later returned to the club at 1500 to conduct a land search at low tide. Unfortunately, nothing was found. The two bodies were recovered from Kariaotahi beach north of the club by lifeguards with the assistance of the Police over the following week.

March 2011

Awarded to: Murray Phipps-Black, Brook Rapson
Club: Worser Bay Lifesaving Club
Date:  2 March 2011, 8.30am
Location: Worser Bay, Wellington

On the 2 March 2011, The East By West Ferry was on a regular trip between Seatoun and Wellington City when it was hit by a large wave that smashed the front windows. As the ferry began filling with water the Skipper sent out a Mayday call and the 44 passengers and crew onboard were issued Lifejackets and ordered onto the top deck.

Brook Rapson, a Worser Bay Lifeguard who lives directly across from the Surf Club saw the stricken vessel which was listing heavily towards the bow and immediately contacted Murray Phipps-Black (another Worser Bay club member that lives close by) he then raced across to the club to prepare an IRB.

Within minutes Murray and Brook were launching the Worser Bay IRB and heading out towards the ferry which was now 100m offshore and drifting towards the rocks. Murray and Brook were the first on scene and completed 6 trips from the ferry to shore transporting an estimated 30 people back to the safety of Worser Bay Beach where they were met by police and taken into the clubrooms. The other 14 passengers were transported to shore by the Worser Bay Yacht Club rescue vessel who joined Murray and Brook soon after they hit the water.

Once all the passengers were ashore the IRB then proceeded back out to the Ferry to lend assistance and help manoeuvre it into the middle of Worser Bay where there was no danger of it hitting rocks. The Police and the Coastguard assisted as passengers were bought to shore.

Murray Phipps-Black is an experienced lifeguard and IRB operator. He spends a lot of his time at the surf club maintaining IRB's and training lifeguards to gain their drivers and Crewman awards. The skills that he displayed while executing the rescue were impeccable, he manoeuvred the IRB in challenging conditions to get passengers safely off the ferry to shore.

The weather was horrendous with torrential rain and gale force winds. The usually flat Worser Bay was subject to large swells, wind chop and limited visibility. There was a real danger of the ferry drifting onto the rocks off Worser Bay. When the ferry took on water it lost one engine which made manoeuvring in the challenging conditions very difficult. Murray and Brook acted professionally and diligently to effect the rescue. They were the first boat on the water and assumed control of the situation, the Worser Bay Yacht club boat was the 2nd boat out there and followed direction from Murray and Brook until the Police and Coastguard arrived. Given the high profile nature of the incident they knew that they could respond quickly and that back up was available if they had any difficulty

The situation could have been worse if there had been no lifeguards present. The way that Murray and Brook responded to the incident allowed all the ferry passengers to be off the ferry within minutes of it getting into trouble. If they were not present there would have been an increased time delay in getting passengers safely to shore, further exposing them to the risks of bring washed overboard, or suffering from hypothermia due to the adverse conditions.

February 2011

Awarded to: Fiona Whyte, Phil Jenkins, Taylor Abernathy-Newman
Club: SLS Beach Ed - Kariaotahi
Date: 18 February 2011
Location: Kariaotahi beach

On Friday 18 February, lifeguards Taylor Abernathy-Newman, Phil Jenkins and Fiona Whyte were instructing a beach education class at Kariaotahi beach. Whilst on the morning tour of the surf club, the head teacher alerted Fiona to a boat that appeared to have flipped while trying to make it through the surf, 600m north of the club. Three people had been thrown from the boat and were floating in the water.

Fiona immediately dispatched Taylor and Phil with the IRB to assist the people to shore and contacted Surfcom with the details of the rescue. The school group, realising an exciting rescue was in progress, crowded on to the surf club deck with their teachers and parents. On the water Phil and Taylor made a sweep of the overturned boat. Two lifejackets floated in the surf and fearing that there were more people in the water, Taylor dived from the IRB to check underneath the dinghy while Phil returned to shore.

Upon arriving at the beach, Phil found that the three boaties had made it to shore but the man who had been dragged from the water by surfers appeared to be in a serious condition. The surfers had attempted CPR but with no response from the man, Phil stepped in with first aid equipment and an oxygen kit. Taylor arrived back at the beach and the two lifeguards ascertained that the man had no visible signs of life, no pulse and no breathing, Phil continued with CPR while Taylor informed Fiona of the patient's status.

Due to the severity of the patient's condition and his location on the beach, Fiona informed Surfcom and requested the Westpac helicopter as well as an ambulance, she was told that Westpac was unavailable but the ambulance would be there in twenty minutes. Surfcom also tasked the Kariaotahi call out squad to help with the incident. Realising that a fatality was a strong likelihood, Fiona decided that the young students would need to be removed from the surf club. Handing the teacher a radio, she told him to take the kids to the Southern end of the beach for a walk and not to enter the water, she informed the teacher that she would radio him when it was clear to come back to the club.

Soon after, Jurjen Haitsma, Ben Coers, Lee Lawrence and Jim Coe arrived at the club. The Kariaotahi lifeguards went straight to the scene of the incident and helped Taylor and Phil managed the situation. Just as they arrived, Taylor and Phil had managed to get the patient breathing. The man breathed weakly on his own as the boys put him into the recovery position and kept him on oxygen. Fiona contacted Surfcom, to give an update on the patient's condition and was told that Westpac was now available and would be landing in ten minutes. Fiona asked Ben and Jurjen to return to the club for the helicopter landing kit, but meanwhile the patient had started to regain consciousness and was beginning to struggle. The lifeguards restrained and reassured him as he tried to rip the oxygen mask from his face.

As Ben and Jurjen grabbed the helicopter landing kit, Westpac arrived overhead. The helicopter landed on the beach and proceeded straight to the patient, upon assessing the patient they decided to transport him directly to hospital. The lifeguards were relieved of the patient and began to clean up the scene, helping the other two boaties to beach their dinghy.

Upon returning to the club, the lifeguards were thrilled at the outcome of the situation. Knowing that if they had not been at the club that day, the man and perhaps his companions would certainly have drowned. The guards washed down their gear and instructed the beach education group to return to the club to continue with their lesson. The lifeguards informed the year four and five students that the rescue was a success and the man had lived. But drew their attention to a very real example of what can happen if you fail to wear your life jacket.

 January 2011

Awarded to: Patrol 1 - Richard Kannemeyer, Tim Gibb, Patria Harris, Olivia Dobrowolski, Simon Dobrowolski, Oliver Stewart, Eloise Kannemeyer, Tom Kehoe, Russell Neill and Aaron Young.
Club: Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service
Date: 30 January 2011
Location: Mangawhai Heads Beach

On the afternoon of Sunday January 30, Surf Lifeguards were notified that a man had been pulled from the water, unconscious and not breathing, 200 metres from flagged area.

Immediately Patrol Captain Richard Kannemeyer dispatched Surf Lifeguards Olivia Dobrowolski, Patria Harris and Simon Dobrowolski on the quad bike with the resuscitation kit and defibrillator to where the man had been pulled out of the water. They were closely followed by Russell Neill and Aaron Young with a second resuscitation kit. Surf Lifeguards Tim Gibb, Oliver Stewart and Tom Kehoe, who training in the IRB, heard the radio call and responded to the incident. Eloise Kannemeyer maintained the flags throughout the whole incident.

A 28 year old male had been pulled from the water. He was not breathing and had no pulse. Assistance from the rescue helicopter was immediately requested via SurfCom. Simon instantly recognized the severity of the incident and attached the defibrillator and delivered the first shock. This was followed by compressions from Tim and a second shock approximately three minutes later. While this was taking place Patria, Olivia and Tom managed the crowd of people on the beach to keep the situation calm.

Oliver and Aaron managed the first aid equipment, ensuring that resources readily available for Tim and Russell. Simon was steadily relaying critical information back to Richard, who was passing it on to SurfCom.

Shortly after delivering the second shock, an off duty Anaesthesiologist came offered his assistance. The team continued compressions and resuscitation. Soon after, the patient vomited and was immediately rolled onto his side and then checked for signs of life. No signs of life were found and compressions continued. The Anaesthesiologist performed a procedure to keep the patient's airway open and further shocks and compressions were administered. A faint pulse was then recognised and rise and fall of patient's chest was found. Critical patient care continued to be administered as the patient's breathing improved.

St John arrived and immediately attached a portable heart monitor to assess the patient's respiration and heart rhythm and rate. The lifeguards informed St John of the patient's medical history and resuscitation information. At this point the patient's level of consciousness was still low with him only responding to pain. Breathing and circulation were continually monitored as he was removed from the beach on to a scoop stretcher. The decision was made to transport the patient in the IRB for safety and privacy, at which time his level of consciousness increased and he began responding to voice.

Patria, Olivia, Tom and Oliver managed the crowd and stop traffic. They were assisted by the Local Fire Department who was setting up the Helipad.

The patient was then transferred to the Ambulance for further treatment by St John staff and the Anaesthesiologist. The Ambulance met the Helicopter at the helipad and the Paramedics onboard assessed the patient before the all-clear was given to take him to Whangarei Hospital.

Whangarei Ambulance Staff have stated the following;

"Without your actions this person would have died and we were very impressed with the level of skill and resources that were used to achieve the best possible outcome for this patient."

December 2010

Awarded to: Tai Kahn, Dave Ross, Mitchell Powell, Laree Furniss
Club: Baylys Beach Regional Lifeguards
Date: 26 December 2010
Location: Baylys Beach

On the afternoon of 26 December 2010 (Boxing Day) Surf Lifesaving Regional Guard Patrol Captain Tai Kahn and Baylys Beach volunteer surf lifeguard Mitchell Powell were still in patrol uniform as they finished cleaning and storing the lifesaving equipment after a busy day of patrolling.

Outside the rented bach which was the makeshift clubhouse a member of the public came off the beach and stopped, appearing to try and get cell phone reception, then started to make a call. Tai's honed lifeguard skills kicked in as he noticed the person looking shaken and uneasy, Tai approached to ask if things where all right.

The person informed Tai that he was calling for an ambulance because his friend had just broken his leg sliding down the sand dunes to the north of the access way. Upon hearing this Tai informed the man he had equipment and was qualified to help out with the situation.

Tai called to Mitchell who proceeded to help him load the oxygen, resuscitation kit, first aid kit and spinal board onto the quad bike. After telling the other people at the house to stay to ensure the ambulance was called and on its way, they drove down to the beach to locate and assess the incident.

Driving onto the beach Tai was looking out for local senior lifeguards Dave Ross and Laree Furniss who had stopped in just minutes earlier to see if anyone wanted to join them for a surf. Spotting their vehicle 30 metres south of the beach access Tai decided it would be beneficial to recruit the extra senior lifeguards skill and experience.

Dave and Laree reached for their set belts as Tai drove towards them, his urgency alerting them that something was up. After a quick stop informing them of the incident and to follow him, the two vehicles headed north.

The incident and patient were easily spotted near the base of a sand dune.  Tai and Dave grabbed their first aid packs and headed over to introduce themselves and start the initial assessments. Mean while Laree began scene control and information gathering off the other members of the party. The patient was lying on his back with head towards the bottom of the dune and appeared to have been dragged down on his body board from further up the slope. It was quickly established that the Patient had broken his right femur, with obvious deformity and some swelling.

Dave continued with the patients assessment while Tai organised oxygen and reassured the patient, Mitchell was sent back to the house on the quad to retrieve the secondary oxygen kit to have in reserve and to check on the status of the ambulance, which could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to respond.

Mitchell returned to inform Tai that the ambulance had been contacted successfully and would be on scene in approximately 30 minutes.

After gathering information from the patient and group it was discovered he was a 16 year old male and had congenital bone defects in both his legs since birth, and had spent most of his life in a wheelchair ruling out loss of his mobility being caused by the injury. The patient was from Auckland, on a family holiday and staying at the Baylys Beach camping ground.

The assessments were completed with the patient complaining of pain in his right ankle also but, no other injuries were found apart from the broken femur. The femoral artery was assessed as not to have been damaged and the patient had remained conscious throughout. Vitals were stable, airway clear and normal, pulse was strong and blood pressure good. Even though the patient was a status 2, due to his stable condition the helicopter was not called for.

Extra people from the group were recruited to help perform a controlled log roll and place the patient onto the spinal board. The legs were padded out for maximum comfort and stability. After securing the patient to the spinal board he was moved off the sand dune slope and placed on the flat sand in the shade of a vehicle to wait for the ambulance.

The ambulance arrived at 7:15pm. The Patient was loaded into the back and the local on-call doctor arrived with his vehicle and kit.

While waiting for the ambulance to leave the scene the lifeguards held a debriefing, as this was Mitchell's first serious incident. He enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of the team and gained valuable experience in how to deal with this sort of situation.

The ambulance left for Whangarei Hospital for surgery. The lifeguards received back their spinal board and replacement oxygen tubing and mask. The boy's father thanked the lifeguards for their help before leaving with his son to hospital.

The lifeguards returned to the bach once again to clean and sort their gear for the next days patrol happy with being able to help out someone in need.

November 2010

Awarded to: Danyon Spiller
Club: Pacific Surf Life Saving Club
Date: 13 November 2010
Location: Marine Parade, Napier

Napier's Marine Parade Beach is notorious for its dangerous surging shore break which breaks onto a steep shingle beach during periods of large swell.

While assisting his mother to set up for a Trivial Pursuit fundraiser at the Pacific SLSC, Danyon Spiller, a newly qualified, off duty surf lifeguard noticed a group of 10 young local boys aged about 9-10 years of age, run past the club heading for the beach. Concerned for the boys safety, because of high seas and a large 2m shore break which was pounding the Marine parade beach that day, Danyon followed the boys down to the beach and kept watch over them while they played in the wash which surged up the beach after each breaking wave.

Despite Danyon's mother, Sherrise, insisting he return to the club, his concern for the boys' safety caused him to continue his watch.

Larger than usual set waves surged up the beach and the resulting backwash caught the boys by surprise dragging all 10 into the shore break. Nine heads reappeared and scrambled back up the beach while a 10th was caught and pulled into the break. Danyon immediately tore of his clothing entered the break and swam to the struggling boy who immediately tried to use his rescuer as support. The boy was subdued and calmed by Danyon who explained the consequences if he did not.

The Marine Parade shore break is dangerous and good rescue technique dictates patients are kept offshore to await the arrival of an IRB launched from the Westshore SLSC, 10 -15 minutes away. In this instance, being after hours and with little chance of an IRB rescue Danyon was correctly fearful of trying to return the boy to shore without additional buoyancy support, knowing that if he lost the tired patient in the shore break their may not be a second chance.

As a consequence, Danyon was required to support the tired and cold victim offshore for 20 minutes. During this time, Sherrise co-ordinated the retrieval of a rescue tube, an ambulance being rung and was preparing herself to swim the tube out to assist in the rescue.

Sherrise was then approached by a member of the public (previous Pacific SLSC Junior Member Nick Perry) who swam the tube out to Danyon. After securing the rescue tube to the patient and with the assistance of Nick Perry, Danyon towed the boy through the break and safely to shore. Arriving club members assisted Danyon and the rescued boy to the club where he was monitored for hypothermia while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.

The patient was assessed at Hawkes Bay Hospital and discharged in good health that same evening. 

April 2010

Awarded to: Peter Taylor, Joe Burnett, Matt Ritani, Sam Craig, Kent Newman, Wilson Finch, Jock McNaught, Aaron Smith, Anna Hemansson, Olly McKay and Hannah Logan
Club: Riversdale SLSC
Date:   21 January 2010 (the award was given in April as the best 'runner up' for the season)
Time: 2.30pm
Location of Incident: Riversdale beach

George Smith and Reuben Smith, 7, with Riversdale lifeguard Peter Taylor, who helped save George and 14 children from a rip. ROBERT KITCHIN/The Dominion Post
George Smith and Reuben Smith, 7, with Riversdale lifeguard Peter Taylor, who helped save George and 14 children from a rip.

ROBERT KITCHIN/The Dominion Post

At 2.30pm a contingent of young swimmers from the local campground arrived on the beach, increasing the  swimmers between the flags from 20 to 100. Peter, Matt and Joe stationed themselves on waters edge, and spotted a group of five on the edge of the south flag, a far way out - Matt moved to signal them back between the  flags.

A large wave struck and knocked the first five and other swimmers nearby off their feet. The undertow pulled them further out. Wilson (swimming off duty) saw one of the swimmers was in distress and advised her to put her hand up. He also encouraged the other swimmers who were increasingly distressed  to do likewise. Peter, saw the hand go up and swam out with a tube to retrieve the girl. He was closely followed by Joe and Matt.

A larger group of swimmers had also been pulled into a rip caused by a combination of a feeder current and a strong drift. When Peter arrived and saw the large number of swimmers in difficulty, and sent Joe and Matt back in to shore to get the IRB.

Joe and Peter both secured patients. Kent, an off duty lifeguard saw the assistance required signal and proceeded to the first IRB and launched it with Matt. Meanwhile Peter and Joe came to shore with a patient each and then proceeded out to another group of five in difficulty. One of this group was submerged on arrival. This high risk patient was clipped in and the other patients were instructed to raft up on the tube around her.

Up at the clubhouse Jock, Olly and Anna were finishing off a separate first aid incident. Once alerted to the incident they brought oxygen and other medical supplied down to the beach. Jock assisted in assembling the second IRB and got it into the water, heading straight to Wilson's patients, then  further out to Peter to pick up a group before returning to shore to unload.

Meanwhile the first IRB had already picked up the five patients from Peter and had pulled in an exhausted man (George) who had been trying to help hold the kids up. On arriving at this patient, Peter held him up using the under arm tow as his tube had been left with another group. The IRB arrived and took George back to shore where he was immediately given oxygen and treated for shock.

After the main group had been pulled in, Peter and Wilson assisted the final few patients into the IRBs and conducted a final search of the water to ensure no one had been missed.

Back on shore, five people had collapsed and an ambulance was called. A head count was requested to ensure all were present. The five patients were transported up to the clubhouse and George recovered enough to the point where he was sitting up and talking when the ambulance arrived. Full sets of vitals were taken on the patients at five minute intervals throughout.

The second prioritised patient was hyperventilating, so a bag mask without oxygen flow was utilised to control breathing. Once she had calmed down she was assessed and it was assumed she had inhaled some water so she was put on oxygen and taken to hospital by ambulance.

The other three patients were suffering from shock so they were kept warm and comfortable and there was a stronger focus on one of the girls who had mild hypothermia. All three gradually improved and were able to walk home once the ambulance staff had checked over them.

Following the incident there was a full debrief and critical incident support was offered. This was also a presentation by Mike and Peter on waves and rip currents. This was delivered to all campers and extensive questions followed. More support was offered to those involved in the incident once again.

In all, 15 patients were recued by tube or IRB. 

March 2010

Awarded to: Joel Davies, Philip Pirie and Antony Mason
Club: St Clair SLSC
Date:   8 March 2010
Time: 4:30pm -4:50pm
Location of Incident: St Clair Beach

At approximately 4.30pm St Clair Lifeguards Philip Pirie and Antony Mason entered the surf in front of the St Clair SLSC rooms on surf skis with the intention of heading toward White Island on a training paddle.

The surf was heading from an easterly direction and a strong drift travelling south along the beach had been created. This drift and the north easterly wind had created a wide fast moving rip from the southern end of the beach out past 'the point' and in a seaward direction past second beach. The head of this rip centred off the cliffs below Cargill's Castle approximately 600 - 700 metres from its origin.

Both Anthony and Philip were pulled southward as they negotiated the heavy surf. As they paddled parallel to, and at the edge of the rip, they observed a number of surfers caught it.

Anthony and Philip paddled over to the first two surfers and had them stay on their boards and hold on to the back of their skis while they were paddled back into the surf zone where they were able to return to shore. They were advised to return to the shore and to remain there. Both were of poor surfing ability.

Anthony and Philip  returned to the rip and observed a further six surfers in difficulty. The first surfer Anthony approached said he was unable to paddle toward shore and had been caught in the rip for 45 minutes. Anthony decided to return to shore while Philip remained with the surfers in the rip. Anthony assisted the surfers by having them paddle against the rip in an attempt to hold their position. 

Two of the surfers were able to paddle along and across the rip and reach a large incoming set that returned them onto the beach at second beach. They were able to negotiate the rocks to safety. Philip remained with the other surfers who did not want to attempt beaching on the rocks. 

Club member Joel Davies was surfing further north along the beach and witnessed the initial assistance given to the surfers by Anthony and Philip. Joel, realising that further resources would be required returned to the beach immediately. 

Anthony returned to the beach and assisted Joel to ready the club IRB along with St Clair Lifeguard Michael Crombie and Fitzroy Lifeguard Isaac Davies who had been surfing with his brother Joel.

The IRB was quickly launched and negotiated the heavy surf to the surfers' position. Anthony was driving and Joel crewing. The boat had radio communication with the surf club and guards were ready to provide further assistance on the beach including first aid if required.

Upon reaching the first surfer Joel told him to remain on his board while they went to pick up a second surfer further out to sea being supported by Philip. Once this surfer was assisted into the IRB the first surfer was picked up and both returned to shore. Both surfers were 15 year old students from Shirley Boys High School in Christchurch. Both were in Dunedin for a surfing interschool. They had average surfing ability and would have had great difficulty returning safely to shore.

The IRB returned to the rip again where Philip was assisting the final two surfers into the surf zone. Both these surfers were able to return safely to shore on the southern end of St Clair Beach.

The potential for greater harm to the victims involved in this incident was high. The response and skills exhibited by the lifeguards involved was of a high standard especially faced with the potential seriousness of the situation, the limited resources initially available and the surf and ocean conditions.


February 2010

Awarded to: Jonathon Webber, Greg Wilson, Anna Schubert, Murray Bray, Mike Wood, Chase Cahalane
Club: Piha Surf Life Saving Club
Date: 24 February 2010
Time: 12.15am
Location of Incident: Lion Rock, Piha

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday 24 February, veteran Piha lifeguard Jonathon Webber was interrupted by a distressed man knocking on his door seeking assistance. The man informed him that two of his friends had fallen from near the top of Lion Rock.

Having the presence of mind to radio the incident in to Surfcom, Jonathon then responded to find the two men near the base of Lion Rock in a critical condition. Joined by fellow local lifeguards who had been alerted by Surfcom and the Piha First Response team, the group set about stabilising the men.

Not helped by the difficult position on loose materials at the base of Lion Rock, and working in darkness, the team were able to assess that one of the men had critical internal injuries and the other a badly broken leg. Both had impact injuries to their heads and were unconscious.

Some of the team went to fetch club ATVs to provide lighting to the area the men were in, joined soon after by the Piha Volunteer Fire Service. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter, which was initially unavailable arrived and an advanced paramedic assisted with the stabilisation of the men and their careful transfer from the beach to the helicopter for airlift to hospital.

At one stage there wear fears both men would not pull through, however thanks to the lifeguards and in particular Jonathon's advanced medical knowledge, the men both survived their ordeal. 


January 2010

Awarded to: Thomas (Willy) Goer, Chris Parker
Name of Club / Service: Regional Lifeguard Service Kariaotahi
Date of Incident: Friday 1 January  2010
Time of Incident: Approx. 7pm
Location of Incident: Kariaotahi Beach

At approximately 7pm on Friday 1 January (an hour after patrol had ended), two members of the public pulled up to the clubhouse after seeing a person in the water a long way out while they were at the resort at the top of the cliff.

Chris Parker, who was the only Surf Lifeguard remaining at the club, immediately scanned the beach and spotted the swimmer. The person was 50 metres north of the main stream and now over 100 metres from shore behind the front bar. He asked one member of the public to keep an eye on the swimmer and the other to hitch the inflatable rescue boat (IRB) trailer to the rescue vehicle while he went into the club to take a look through the binoculars.

A quick look revealed that the swimmer was indeed in distress so Chris informed Surfcom via the rescue network, and requested back up from the Kariaotahi callout squad. Willy Goer had only recently departed the club and was requested to return. 

Chris made his way downstairs to the gear shed where he helped to finish setting up the IRB. Then, along with the two members of the public he headed down to waters edge where a group of 20-30 bystanders had gathered. Chris decided to have one last look at the patient's position, but neither he or the other bystanders could see him.

Chris made the decision to drive the IRB solo in the three metre surf as it could travel much faster and provide a higher platform to search from. With assistance from a member of the public, he got the IRB in the water and negotiated his way through the surf to the patient's last known position.

By the time Chris got to the front bar the patient could still not be seen. After a brief look, he caught site of him about 150 metres north, going over the top of a wave. He saw that the patient was quite large, wearing a rain jacket and 'climbing the ladder'. He was very low down in the water. Because of the surf conditions and the patients location, Chris was unable to perform a solo pick up, so he got as close as possible to the patient and threw him a rescue tube from the IRB. Luckily the patient, who had little time remaining, managed to get a hold of the rescue tube and support himself.

Chris provided a quick update to Surfcom and noticed that backup had still not arrived. He was extremely concerned as to how much longer the patient could support himself. Just as he was about to abandon the IRB to attempt a tube rescue, he saw Willy Goer's van on the beach near to where the IRB had been launched. Chris informed the patient that he had to leave but would come back, and then made his way quickly to meet up with Willy in waist deep water. 

Willy jumped in and they both made haste in returning to the patient. When the IRB crew got back to the scene again they waited for a gap in the dumping surf to perform a pickup. However there was no such gap and the decision was made for Willy to jump overboard with fins, and tow the patient to the land side of the front bar where a pickup could take place. 

Willy performed this task effectively and luckily came in over a sand bar where it was shoulder deep. Every time a pickup was attempted, the patient would scream in pain, which unnerved the lifeguards.

Willy then supported the patient whilst Chris decided to return to the shallows to check if the sandbar went the entire way to shore. It did, so he exited the IRB at shore and then made his way out to Willy and the patient. The guards then performed a double person drag on the patient and got him to shore, 750 metres north from where the patient was initially swimming.

The patient had been in the water for about 45 minutes in total and in distress for almost half an hour. He had also swallowed a lot of water and an ambulance was requested as a precaution. The patient was later discharged from the beach with his family in a stable condition.

If the two surf lifeguards had not shown their experience and applied themselves in the manner and professionalism of which they did, the patient would have most certainly drowned.


December 2009

Awarded to: Regional Lifeguard Service (Kariaotahi): Chris Parker (Patrol Captain), Thomas Goer, Andrew Meiklejohn. Matt Delmonte, Lee Lawrence, Jim Coe, Fiona Whyte (SurfCom Operator).

Date and Time of incident: Friday 18 December 2009 - 3pm
Location of Incident: 600m South of SLS Kariaotahi's club house

Surf lifeguards were first notified to the incident unfolding 600 metres south of the club house by a member of the public. Andrew Meiklejohn was in the Kariaotahi Surf Life Saving tower whilst Thomas Goer and patrol captain Chris Parker were on duty at the waters edge.

A member of the public  alerted Andrew to a hang glider that had crashed into flax. The solitary male patient was said to be unconscious but breathing. Andrew immediately alerted Thomas and Chris to the incident.

Because the lifeguards would need to head to the crash site, the decision was made to return to the clubhouse and gather additional first aid gear such as a spinal board, to complement the AED and oxygen kits they currently had. Andrew was assigned to operate the radios and advised Surf Life Saving Communications operations via the rescue network of the ongoing incident and requested that an ambulance be dispatched. On the way to the crash site Thomas and Chris stopped to drop the flags as a safe patrolled area could no longer be maintained.

Matt Delmonte, an off duty lifeguard, saw the rescue vehicle proceeding south and went up to the clubhouse to offer assistance. Radio communications at the scene were a potential problem due to the location of the incident so Matt took a second radio and rescue vehicle to the beach near the crash site, so that information could be relayed between the crash site and Andrew at base. This provided a vital communication link between the two other sites.

Thomas and Chris arrived at the base of the cliffs with the first aid gear, where they were lead through the dense vegetation by members of the public. It was approximately 75 metres from where the lifeguards parked and where the patient was located up and near the cliff face. It was a difficult exercise in itself, trying to get to the patient because there was no track and thick undergrowth. As they were making their way, people could be heard yelling for help and that the patient had stopped breathing.

Thomas was first on the scene, and discovered that the patient was still in his harness and hanging from the hang glider about 30-50 cm above the ground.

Quickly, he got two members of the public to assist him in getting the patient down and log roll him on to his back. Thomas began a primary survey while Chris was still trying to clear dense bush to put down the first aid gear. Thomas' primary survey revealed that the patient had indeed stopped breathing and was noticeably blue in colour, as well as having a clearly broken left arm. The patient was still in his harness, which had to be cut away before Thomas could begin chest compressions. Meantime Chris had requested the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter via the radio link that Matt had created.

Thomas continued with compressions as Chris set up the AED. Thomas and Chris continued CPR for approximately 10 minutes until ambulance staff arrived. When ambulance staff arrived, Thomas and Chris swapped roles of compressions and breaths, while the ambulance staff went about setting up their defibrillator and administering the patient adrenaline. Soon after the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was arrived, an advanced paramedic on scene declared the patient deceased.

Although their efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful, the surf lifeguards involved gave the patient the best possible care that they could provide. The surf lifeguards involved showed great teamwork and did themselves and SLS proud with their fantastic application of skills whilst maintaining absolute professionalism.


November 2009

Awarded to Piha Lifeguards: Duncan Clarke, Geoff Calvert and Rob Wakelin.

Friday November 27 2009 was clear and warm, the first decent day in a while, and there were plenty of people on the beach and in the water, despite challenging conditions with huge surf and a number of rips.

Weekday patrols were not yet in operation, but Piha General Manager Rob Wakelin was working in the club when he received a report of four surfers in trouble at the front of the notorious Lion Rock.

Rob dialled 111, and was able to get full and accurate details from the informant  to relay to the operator, Maritime Police and SurfCom. He also alerted the after hours call out squad. Rob then prepared the quad bike, inflatable rescue boat (IRB) and radios in advance of the callout members arriving, saving valuable time.

Minutes before the callout squad arrived, one of the surfers came off the beach having been swept right around Lion Rock. He had extensive injuries as a result of the huge surf conditions. He said that two of his companions were out of the water but stranded at the very front of Lion Rock, while the third had made it back to the beach. The third surfer then arrived in a distressed state.

Rob and a Police officer who had reached the scene took the informant and two surfers into the clubhouse to confirm reports and to provide comfort and First Aid.

The Police officer used a Piha SLSC radio to relay information between Surfcom and the Eagle helicopter which had been dispatched. As the informant had been kept close he was able to give accurate details. As luck would have it the informant was a trained paramedic and he attended to the injured surfer as the callout lifeguards launched an IRB to rescue the remaining two surfers from the front of Lion Rock.

Showing tremendous driving skills in huge surf, Duncan manoeuvred the IRB into the glut where Geoff could exit the IRB with a rescue tube and clamber onto the rocks. Duncan then held the IRB steady so the first surfer could leap (from some height) into the IRB. Having returned him to the beach the lifeguards returned to the front of Lion Rock to retrieve the second surfer, who was also returned safely.

The professionalism and expertise this small group of members demonstrated made this nomination a clear winner. These three lifeguards have been involved in Surf Life Saving for many years. They epitomise In it for Life


April 2009

Awarded to United North Piha Lifeguards: Rob Pidgeon (PC), Leif Neilson, Jonathon Gallia, Sam Jenkins, Johnny Clough, Steve Bushell, Alistair Walling and Leon Batten 

On Easter Monday United North Piha Lifeguards noticed a group of people fishing from a rocky peninsula at the northern end of the beach. In particular, one individual who was much further advanced along the rocky outcrop than the others. The tide was still incoming for another hour and the surf conditions were 1.5m, rough and challenging. 

Patrol Captain Rob Pidgeon dispatched an IRB crew to investigate the situation. IRB Driver Leif Neilson and crew Sam Jenkins (trainee IRB driver) responded with Jonathan Gallia onboard as a rescue swimmer. The IRB proceeded north approximately 1.5km and upon arrival on the scene realized that the fisherman had become isolated on the rock by the high tide and was in imminent danger of being swept off by the unpredictable surf. Also, the fisherman did not appear to have any floatation devices and was dressed in heavy clothing. The remainder of the group was in a relatively safe position below the cliffs. 

Neilson, a senior lifeguard, identified the fisherman's predicament, but due to the rocks could not manouver the IRB close and given the surf conditions, felt that it was unsafe to send Gallia, junior lifeguard, into the water. Neilson instructed Jenkins to drive the IRB, while he entered the water with a rescue tube and fins. Pidgeon and Alistair Walling were monitoring the incident from the tower and quickly instructed a second IRB to provide support to IRB 1 which was remaining stationary close to the rocks. 

Driver Johnny Clough (senior lifeguard), crewperson Steve Bushell and rescue swimmer Leon Batten (senior lifeguard) launched IRB 2 and arrived on scene as Neilson, who had been swimming against the strong rip, managed to climb onto the rock and secure the fisherman with the tube. Batten also entered the water from IRB 2 with a rescue tube and fins and joined Neilson on the rock. While the lifeguards prepared to re-enter the water with the patient secured, he quickly became distressed and uncooperative; they did their best to reassure the fisherman but the language barrier proved difficult. At this stage, Walling continued to keep a visual on the lifeguards from the tower while Pidgeon advised Surfcom of the situation. 

Once in the water, the strong rip next to the rocks meant that it was very important that the IRB stayed close to prevent Neilson and Batten from being swept out to sea with the patient. IRB 2 was in position to receive the lifeguards and promptly pulled the patient aboard, while the lifeguards were retrieved by IRB 1. Radio contact with the IRB's was variable, so Pidgeon dispatched an ATV with medical equipment, including a spinal board, to the scene as a precaution. Both IRBs returned to the beach, where Clough and Bushell undertook a primary survey and found that the patient did not require further medial attention.

The lifeguards on the ATV arrived on scene and advised Pidgeon of the patient status who quickly passed this information onto Surfcom. Finally, the shaken but uninjured fisherman was transported via ATV to his vehicle where his family was waiting and all lifeguards returned to continue active patrolling. 

The patrols response to this incident was exceptional as it demonstrated a high level of lifeguarding, training and utilization of available skills and resources whilst maintaining an effective patrolled area. This rescue prevented what could have been another drowning by a recreational fisherman on Auckland's wild west coast.


March 2009

Awarded to Muriwai Lifeguards:  Danny Tenhuevel, Christopher Butt, Amber Prestegard, Billie Haresnape, Dayna King, Ben Tapurau, Rick Wells, Sean Joyce and Ian Boyce.

On Saturday 21 March a report came through of a boogie boarder being swept around the rocks near Maori Bay. Amber Prestegard and Billie Haresnape completed a full sweep of the area in an IRB but with testing conditions of 4-6ft dumping surf the lifeguards could not spot a boogie boarder in distress. Patrol Captain Danny Tenhuevel and Dayna King then proceeded on foot to the steps leading into the Sugarloaf Rock area.

Danny heard some yelling from a fisherman standing on a high ledge on Sugarloaf Rock. The fisherman was agitated and pointing to the water. Danny immediately radioed to base to send the IRB back and sent Dayna into the water to contact the fisherman and search for patients around Split Rock.

As Amber and Billie returned to the area they saw a person face down in the water. They quickly pulled up the lifeless body of a fisherman. Danny immediately radioed SurfCom to let them know of the situation and to request the Westpac rescue helicopter and an ambulance.

Amber and Billie raced the unconscious victim back to the beach where patrol members Rick Wells and Ian Boyce carried him up the beach and prepared resuscitation equipment. Showing no signs of breathing and an undetectable pulse, Amber commenced CPR, whilst Billie commenced oxygen therapy under the direction of Dayna. Rick and Ian provided scene management. After approximately two minutes of chest compressions the victim aspirated water and begun to breathe weakly on his own. Amber and Billie continued to provide oxygen therapy, and monitored the patient's vital signs. The patient's condition began to improve and he was responsive to pain and verbal stimuli by the time the Westpac helicopter arrived.

Lifeguards returned to Sugarloaf Rock where Dayna again made contact with the stranded fisherman and encouraged him into the water and into a waiting IRB crewed by Ben Tapurau and Sean Joyce. Dayna swam back around Sugarloaf Rock to check for other potential victims, but due to the large surf she was unable to continue her search.

The Westpac rescue helicopter with senior lifeguard Christopher Butt performed an aerial search for a possible second patient. The resuscitated fisherman's status had begun to rapidly decline so the helicopter returned to transport the patient to hospital. He was still in intensive care the next day.

The resuscitated fisherman's survival and the successful rescue of another fisherman at the same time is testament to the skill and bravery of the volunteer lifeguards at Muriwai Beach. 


February 2009

Awarded to Hot Water Beach Lifeguards: Gary Hinds, Logan Carter, Peter Curry, Stacey Semmens, Connor McVerry and Cody Muir 

Patrol had only been operational for five minutes when cries for help were heard from just outside the flagged area. Lifeguards quickly identified two swimmers desperately signaling for help and Peter Curry swam with tube and fins in the direction of the now struggling swimmers. A radio call was made to base just as Cody Muir entered the water closely followed by Connor McVerry. 

Meanwhile Peter had reached the first two patients but was alerted by them that the other two swimmers were in need of immediate assistance. He swam another five meters and secured one of the swimmers into the tube with the other swimmer saying he was ok and would swim along side them. 

The flash rip that had caused these swimmers to be quickly taken out to sea had now sucked the first two patients out past Peter when Cody reached them. He secured one of them into the tube; however further complications were created by a cross current now running directly through the first rip and he found himself and his patients being taken further out to sea. Cody remained calm, reassuring his patient and assisting her through waves. 

During this time Gary Hinds and Logan Carter launched the IRB and negotiating the waves made their way out to Cody to safely return his patient to shore. Connor had also reached his patient who was now very frightened and clinging to a surfer's board. He was lying flat on the board and took the tube Connor offered him but no amount of persuasion could get him off the board. With the surfers help Connor succeeded in bringing the patient back to shore, stabilizing him through waves by holding the board. 

The surf was challenging and was making it increasingly difficult for the IRB to reach the other patients. Connor and his patient returned to shore followed by Peter who was swimming with one patient clipped into the tube and the other swimming next to him, refusing help of any kind but still climbing onto Peter's back or grabbing the tube each time a wave came through. 

All patients were assessed on land, some suffering minor shock and requiring oxygen therapy, but all eventually returning to their families. 

It was later discovered that the first swimmer had gone for a swim outside the flagged area and got into trouble. The second person went out to assist but also found difficulty so the third and fourth swimmers went out to try and help but once again ended up in trouble. 

The quick actions and excellent team work of these guards no doubt prevented a horrendous incident from occurring. This rescue once again demonstrates how important it is to never underestimate the conditions and always swim between the flags.


 January 2009

Awarded to Bay of Plenty Lifeguards: Luke Yabsley, Spencer Raymond, Matt Williams, Jake Smith, Jacinta Gibbons-Hurunui, Martine Smith, Shaun Moran, Alex Wheeler, Tyler Bracken, James McNeil, Luke Smith and Becky Pennell. 

While patrolling a closed beach, lifeguards at Pauanui beach watched as an 18ft (5.4m) single hulled vessel attempted to cross the bar. Sensing the innevitable Luke Yabsley (RNLI lifeguard visiting from Devon, England) and Spencer Raymond responded in the IRB, launching the boat in the water just as the vessel was struck, broached and overturned in large 6-8ft dumping surf. 

Luke and Spencer proceeded out to the incident reaching the victims in minimal time. As they approached the vessel they quickly assessed the situation and decided to pick up the two children aged two and six and threw a tube to a third victim. After dropping the children to fellow lifeguards Tyler Bracken and Becky Pennell, the IRB proceeded back out to bring the three remaining victims to shore. By this stage lifeguards Matt Williams and Jake Smith had arrived on the scene by quad bike with Oxygen kits and a defibrillator. 

Matt and Jake immediately began oxygen therapy treating one of the older patients for severe exhaustion, shock and also secondary drowning as he had swallowed a lot of salt water. While completing a secondary survey Luke discovered a large haematoma, checked for concussion and noted it for the ambulance handover and proceeded to place the victim on a stretcher for transport. 

The two parents and oldest child where in a stable condition so were kept warm and monitored while Matt performed a secondary survey on the youngest child as she had gone under water multiple times. Further lifeguards arrived on the scene assisting with the incident and bringing blankets and a stretcher while keeping in constant communication with Jacinta Gibbons-Hurunui and Martine Smith at the tower who had called for the ambulance service, Westpac Rescue helicopter and other lifeguards from neighbouring Surf Club Tairua. 

As the ambulance crew arrived a handover was done by Matt Williams, shortly after regional lifeguards from Tairua beach arrived to offer assistance. After the handover was made, guards continued to offer assistance to patients, reassuring and supporting them and went about setting up a clear and safe helicopter landing zone. Almost an hour after the event first occurred the Westpac Rescue helicopter arrived with the ambulance paramedic handing over to helicopter crew and Matt, Luke and Spencer prepared the patient for transfer and aided the crewmen in loading. 

As soon as the helicopter departed lifeguards became involved in another serious incident involving a jet-ski. After guards had rescued the jet-ski driver, all lifeguards immediately reconditioned their equipment and returned to the tower to resume their duties. 

From the time guards in the tower first spotted the struggling craft until when the helicopter lifted off, these members of the regional guard service and Trust Waikato Pauanui Surf Life Saving Club demonstrated an excellent standard of patient care, knowledge of operational procedures, competency in using lifesaving resources, highly commendable team work and forward thinking all in very challenging conditions. Without their prompt response and care this would have no doubt been another tragic event in New Zealand's waters. 


December 2008

Awarded to: Northern Region Guards Dave Comp, James Lea, Mason Dray-Hogg, Lauren Gibbs, Paul Francois (Bethells Beach) and David Butt (Muriwai c/- Westpac Rescue Helicopter).

As patrol was being set up off duty lifeguard James Lea ran to the patrol tower to alert the guards that there had been an incident involving fishermen at the cable (a popular fishing spot) they had been swept off the rocks. 

Dave and James immediately launched an IRB and asked Paul to coordinate with 'Surfcom'. He advised 'Surfcom' there were two fishermen in the water, one unconscious and one missing and requested immediate emergency service. 

As the IRB arrived at the scene they saw a group of fishermen on the rocks by their unconscious friend. James dived into the water and swam to the rocks he then had to move the 130kg+ man to higher ground and started CPR, while Dave drove solo back to get additional help. Westpac rescue helicopter had also been arranged. 

Dave was met by Mason on the beach and together headed through the difficult surf conditions back to the rocks. Mason swam to the rocks to assist James and once again Dave made his way back to the beach on his own to collect Lauren to begin the search for the missing fisherman. 

Westpac rescue helicopter arrived and with amazing skill the pilot managed to lower a paramedic to the scene (rotor blades were only one meter away from the rock face). Although the helicopter was in close to the cliff James still had to grab the paramedic's legs to pull him onto the rock. At this point Mason had taken over administering CPR. 

During this time Dave and Lauren continued with their search of the caves and monitored the scene while an additional IRB from Muriwai was dispatched. Together they continued the search. No body was sighted. 

Unfortunately the fisherman on the rocks had been pronounced deceased by the paramedic and David Butt jumped from the helicopter and swum to the rocks assisting James and Mason as they now had to face the daunting task of swimming the man to the IRB to return him to shore. 

A call was also made to the Bethells Base to evacuate the Rookie Lifeguards and send them to the lake well away from the scene when the body would come back to the club. 

James, Mason and David then carried the body out into the huge seas and towed him to the awaiting IRB. Being the size he was made this a very difficult task, especially when the lanyard of the tube became tangled in the prop. 

This rescue once again demonstrates the increasingly intense and difficult situations that our lifeguards are becoming involved in. The skill, professionalism, team work and care showed by the guards, not only for themselves but other club and beach users were absolutely above par and although unsuccessful all involved should be immensely proud of their actions that day.


November 2008  

Awarded to: Bay of Plenty Lifeguards Allan Mundy (Omanu), Ashleigh Cleverley and John Devery (both from Papamoa).

First thing in the morning the bus pupils were arriving on a number of buses outside Mt Maunganui College during rush hour traffic. School was about to begin. A young girl had just been dropped off on the opposite side of the road to the school by her older brother. She exited the car, walked across the road and was hit by an oncoming truck.

Staff member Jane Doherty saw the accident occur and heard the younger brother yelling out. After digesting what had just happened, Jane ran to the college foyer raising the alarm. 

As Jane entered the foyer she saw Allan Mundy and told him of the accident. Allan immediately went out to the site also assisted by fellow lifeguard Ashleigh Cleverley who offered to help.

Upon reaching the site the girl had been dragged by her brother towards the side of the road, Allan anticipated serious danger with Mt Maunganui road being a main arterial road into the Port, a 70km speed zone and heavily used by large trucks. Allan immediately instructed the traffic to stop while coordinating various staff as they came onto the scene.

Allan then carried out a primary survey of the girl on the road. Her airway was blocked so he initially applied a jaw thrust but was unsuccessful so attempted a maximal head tilt which allowed the girl to start breathing. There were large amounts of blood and the position the girl was lying in made it difficult to establish if the patient had a pulse. Allan and Ashley worked together and found there was a weak pulse and the patient had begun to moan.

During this time Allan discovered the patients head was very soft upon light palpation, she had suffered a severe head injury. During an attempted secondary survey Allan also noted massive bruising across the patient's abdomen and lower chest. John Devery then arrived at the scene with a Bag Valve Resuscitator the school had. Allan applied this to assist with the girls breathing as this was becoming increasingly sporadic and shallow. It was at this time Allan and John conferred noting the girl's pupils were becoming dilated and along with the extent of the injuries, that she was dying. Being aware of the large number of pupils who had gathered on the opposite side of the road and the students who had been kept in the other buses Allan made the decision to continue with the expired air resuscitation as she still had a pulse.

Soon after this the girl's mother came onto the scene hysterical inadvertently pushing Allan onto the patient. She was restrained and comforted by John who at this stage had secured the site safety, gathered all the family members allowing Ashleigh and Allan to concentrate solely on the patient. Being outside a school the scene management was extensive.

The ambulance and fire crews eventually arrived and Allan briefed the ambulance crew who then promptly took the patient and rushed her off to hospital. CPR was attempted by the crew whilst in the ambulance but unfortunately the injuries suffered were so severe she did not make it to hospital.

This first aid rescue by Allan, John and Ashleigh displayed extreme courage and maturity especially considering the enormity of the scenario which was further exaggerated with 250 students, parents and teachers amalgamating outside the school gate and trying to safely control the traffic flow on a busy and very public highway. Their skills and abilities were extremely professional and vigilant and were greatly appreciated by the family of the victim and everyone else involved on the day. 


April 2008

Awarded to the volunteer lifeguards from Whangarei Heads for their efficient and professional patrol, successful rescue and patient management. Lifeguards involved: Teresa Hill, Jessica Robinson, Reuben Kake, Hazel Buchanan and rookie guards: Zac Whitsitt and John Michael Hicks.

During flag duty two guards spotted a surfer raise his arm in a rip running from a hole in the middle of the beach. Guards immediately entered the water to assist the struggling surfer.

Another three lifeguards who were swimming out the back of the flagged area saw the rescue taking place and immediately swum over to assist while others returned to shore to take over flag duty. Rescue equipment and vehicles were also dispatched by guards in the patrol tower

The two tube swimmers arrived at the surfer and after a quick assessment identified the surfer was going into shock. They removed the surfer's leg rope and clipped him into a tube and towed the surfer back into the beach.

When they arrived at the beach Oxygen was applied to the patient and he was assisted into the rescue vehicle. The patient was monitored on the beach until he was considered stable and then escorted to the clubhouse for a warm shower, final assessment and release to his friends.

Although not a dramatic rescue, the success of this rescue was threefold. The threats at the beach were discussed at the start of patrol briefing and therefore all patrolling members were primed and aware of the potential areas of risk. Secondly, every member of the patrol had designated 'buddies' and roles should an incident occur; this was inclusive of the rookies who proved to be valuable assets. And thirdly, very little instruction was required as each individual dealt with their specified role in a proficient manner.

As one rookie guard said at the end of patrol whilst still buzzing after his involvement; "We talked about this happening today and we all did exactly what he said we should."


March 2008

Awarded to Piha and United North Piha Life Guards for their combined rescue and advanced scene management. Life Guards involved: Abbi Manley, Cali Manley, Liz Manley, Vanda Karolczak, Paul Picot, Gary Turton, Ukiah Brown, Tony Featherstone (PC), Paul Downey, Jason Anderson, Merrin O'Brien, Jess Hosking, Jonathon Webber, Geoff Calvert , Hayley Seymour, Leif Neilson, Brent Airey.

After patrol had finished for the day, lifeguards at South Piha were packing up when a member of the public alerted them to a person "being carried away in a current" through large messy surf. After a brief but intense search by lifeguards some distance from the original patrol area, the unconscious patient was returned to shore. The Westpac Rescue helicopter was called while communications were managed and additional resources (stretcher, blankets, extra oxygen and AED) where brought to the scene. 

Distressed family members were looked after by additional life guards, as statements and other information was recorded.
The person was transported from the waters edge to the mid-beach helipad where ambulance officers took over the management. The patient's condition was deteriorating fast and it was hugely important that all information that was collected and recorded by the guards was handed over to the ambulance officers to ensure they had a clear picture of what had happened. As the ambulance officers continued to work on the patient lifeguards kept communications between SurfCom and the ambulance dispatch going and ensured the helipad area remained secure. In poorly lit conditions lifeguards transferred the patient to Helimed, in preparation for transfer to hospital. He remained in a serious state in Auckland City Hospital for three days before being discharged.

Throughout the incident lifeguards continually liaised with the family, provided additional help to the patient and documented the incident to ensure an accurate hand-over to the ambulance and Helimed officers. Lifeguards were highly commended on their work by both the ambulance and Helimed teams. It is without doubt that the quick-thinking response from this team and the extremely effective scene management the means for this successful patient rescue and favorable outcome.


February 2008 

Awarded to United North Piha and Muriwai lifeguards, namely Jesse Pidgeon, Stefan Hollier, David Butt, Matt Buswell and Ari Peach, for the outstanding skill and courage showed in unfavourable conditions.

On the morning of February 6th 2008 a report of a fisherman being washed off the rocks at Bethells Beach was received by United North Piha Lifeguards. Jesse and Stefan immediately responded with an IRB, a second IRB crewed by Matt and David was dispatched from Muriwai, and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter with Lifeguard Ari Peach on board, was also launched from Mechanics Bay. 

When the IRBs arrived at the area where the patient was last seen, it was decided that the best option was to drop Ari from the helicopter into the heavy surf, and the IRBs assist him to the cave entrance. After searching for a number of minutes Ari located the patient at the rear of the cave. In almost complete darkness he hauled the patient to the mouth of the cave, but large surf and strong currents made it near impossible to exit. After numerous attempts, David joined Ari, while Matt controlled the IRB, and using a double tube tow they swam the patient to the waiting IRB. Jesse and Stefan then assisted Ari, David and the patient into the boat where he was assessed and returned to the club house. Unfortunately, he was later confirmed deceased. 

The lifeguards involved in this rescue showed excellent team work and outstanding initiative in testing conditions. Unfortunately this rescue was not a successful one, but their actions gave the patient every chance of survival. 


January 2008

Awarded to the Surf Lifesaving Hawkes Bay Regional Guards on Marine Parade, namely Amy Vaughan, Sam Riddell and Avril Turvey, for their physically and emotionally demanding rescue. 

Lifeguards were alerted that a child was in the water some distance down the beach. Two guards were sent on a quad bike to assess the situation with others remaining at the club house to monitor calls to and from the police and other Surf Club officials. While on their way down the coast line a man was spotted in the water. One guard took a tube and negotiated a large shore dump to reach him while the other continued down the beach where he swam out to a child who appeared unconscious. The child was brought to shore and CPR was conducted. Unfortunately the child was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance officers.
Meanwhile additional lifeguards had arrived at the scene and assisted the remaining guard through dangerous conditions to return the other patient safely to shore. He was later discharged from hospital.
Although this rescue was not successful, the manner in which the guards responded to the rescue and how the situation was dealt with immediately after the traumatic event was extremely professional. All the guards and club members should be extremely proud of their actions.


December 2007

Awarded to Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club, namely Nathan Smith and Liam O'Toole, for their physically demanding rescue of 5 struggling swimmers. 

Nathan was out on a knee board when he was alerted to 3 young girls who had become caught it a rip. He immediately paddled over and successfully assisted them back to shore. Once back on shore they informed him that more girls were further out in the rip. He immediately returned to the water and headed through the rip where he spotted one more female who was caught in white water and in severe difficulty. Nathan got off his knee board and assisted the semi conscious girl back to shore, where he was again told there was still one person in the rip. For a 3rd time Nathan returned to the water searching for the missing girl. Thankfully Nathan spotted her and returned the unconscious and limp girl back to shore. Nathan then returned to the club house where Liam joined him to bring oxygen and other first aid equipment. The patients were then transported back to the club where they were monitored until an ambulance arrived. All patients were discharged the same day.
Both Nathan and Liam showed maturity and expertise beyond their years which in no doubt saved the lives of the five girls.


November 2007

November 2007 - Raglan Lifeguards Sarah Sharp, Chase Cahalane, Sarah Amoore, Brett Richards, Catherine Arbuckle, Jennifer Snowden, Emma Snowden, Josh Searle, Lisa Oldridge and Mark Bridger plus Rookie Lifeguards Katene Connor and Isaac Newbury

At around 3.45pm with a head count of approximately 200 in the water and 500 on the beach (about an hour before low tide), Isaac Newberry in the tower noticed a swimmer on the northern flag appearing to be getting into some difficulty, also gaining the attention of Sarah Sharp on flag duty.

Brett Richards and Chase Cahalane ran down the beach, meeting Sarah at the Inflatable Rescue Boat. Chase and Sarah launched the IRB south of the flags and proceeded around to the swimmer who was being kept afloat by his friend's boogie board. The panicked swimmer was pulled into the IRB, followed by his friend with the boogie board. After questioning the two patients, it was discovered that they had lost sight of a third friend, and after relaying this information to the tower, a second IRB was with a crew of Brett Richards and Mark Bridger (off-duty lifeguard) was dispatched.

As IRB1 was returning the original two patients to the waters edge, they spotted their friend, and this was confirmed via radio. Lisa Oldridge (off-duty lifeguard) and Katene Connor (Rookie) met the two patients at the
waters edge with the quad, and proceeded to assess their status and take their details.

IRB2 had already entered the water and had spotted two boogie boarders (patients three and four) at the back of the flags. Patient four was quite large (approximately 140kgs), making it very difficult to get him into the IRB. The patient clung onto the IRB while it negotiated a number of waves before eventually Brett and Mark were able to get patient four into the boat. On their way to assist, IRB1 noticed a further swimmer (patient five) closer to the flags who was struggling and was in obvious need of assistance. Catherine Arbuckle who had been on flags had also spotted this patient, and was en-route for a tube rescue. Chase was able to avoid other members of the public, get to the patient, negotiate three waves while the patient had a hold of the boat, pick him up, and safely remove the boat from the flagged area.

IRB1 then returned patient five to the shore at a similar time to IRB2 returning with patients three and four. Upon exiting the IRB, patient four appeared quite unsteady on his feet, but declined the offer of oxygen or assistance as suggested by Lisa Oldridge, Jennifer Snowden and Chase. The patient instead chose to make his own way up the beach. Lisa followed him on the quad, until being tasked by the tower (where Sarah Amoore and Isaac Newberry were continuing to watch the water and co-ordinate) to assist an injured lady up the hill, who had approached lifeguards but had declined first aid assistance.

Meanwhile, IRB2 had returned to the water and two surfers (patients six and seven) north of the flags and well out from shore signaled for assistance. Both were picked up and returned to shore, before IRB2 returned to pick up Catherine, and continued to survey the swimmers with the assistance of IRB1. Upon being satisfied that all swimmers were safe, the IRBs returned to shore to regroup. Soon after, Sarah A called for assistance from the tower, as patient four had presented himself to the tower. He told Sarah A he had managed to climb the stairs although had to stop a few times, as he had taken on some water before being rescued.

At this stage, Club President Anne Snowden and off-duty lifeguard Emma Snowden had also arrived at the beach to drop off some gear, and came down to the tower to assist.

Sarah S responded from the waters edge to the tower, put the 19 year old male on oxygen, and began to assess the patient. On becoming aware that the patient had taken on water, and was not in an alert state of consciousness, SurfCom was notified that an ambulance was required, and Anne took over communication with Surf Com. Sarah S continued to monitor the patient, gather medical history, treat for shock and gather other information while lifeguards regrouped and continued to monitor the water and flagged area.

By the time the ambulance arrived (after approximately 10 minutes), the patient was appearing very drowsy and cold. The ambulance officer assessed the patient, and decided the patient needed to be transported to Waikato Hospital. Because the patient was large, and would not have been able to transport himself down the narrow tower stairs, the decision was made to put him onto a spinal board to carefully transport him down. Members of the public and lifeguards were utilized to ensure this occurred safely.

All lifeguards involved reacted with professionalism and expertise. Had they not acted so effectively, this situation would have had a less desired outcome.