Rescue on Tairua bar wins national surf lifesaving award

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The rescue of stranded boaties on the Tairua bar has won a national surf lifesaving award.

Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand selects a winning rescue from each region as well as an overall national winner for the title of BP Rescue of the Month. Pauanui Surf Life Saving Club has won the Eastern Region award for March as well as being the national winner.

At 7.30am on Monday March 28, senior lifeguard Martine Smith received a call from local police, requesting assistance with an overturned vessel on the bar. Three patients were involved and none of them were wearing lifejackets.

Martine called her sister Allenie Smith and headed to the surf club, attempting to rally a team on the way. Upon arrival, one of her fellow lifeguards, Mark Gordon, was already there. He was checking out the surf on the bar when he saw the boat overturn.

Jake Smith and Jamie McDell had received a text from the local Coastguard and they went straight to the club. Ryan Winckel and Spencer Raymond also met at the club and prepared two boats which were launched within minutes.

When the lifeguards arrived at the scene, they found two of the three patients had already been rescued by Coastguard, but one was stranded on rocks.

The lifeguards waited to be tasked by Police and the rescue helicopter arrived on scene to assess the situation while Police assessed a way out by land.

In this time, Mark jumped in the water to assess the rock entries and exits available, should the patient need rescuing. He met the patient and gave him his lifejacket.

It was determined that the only way off the rocks was via an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) and the Police tasked the lifeguards to assist.

Mark and Ryan escorted the man off the rocks safely to an awaiting IRB. The patient was taken to a safe point where all patients were accounted for and were assessed by ambulance staff.

Lifeguards are trained to work closely around rocks in challenging conditions and this was a clear demonstration of those abilities. A thorough assessment showed there was no other way of getting the patients off the rocks and without the IRB being able to manoeuvre close to the rocks, the patient was at risk of being swept off.

The club receives a $500 Gift Card from BP to help with the financial costs of keeping communities safe in the water.

BP NZ Managing Director Matt Elliott says the quick and coordinated response from the off duty lifeguards was outstanding. "Since 1968 we have been proud to stand behind this amazing organisation that can make the difference between life and death," he says.

For more information about BP Rescue of the Month, click here.

Northern: Bethells Beach
Eastern- Pauanui
Central- Titahi Bay
Southern- St Clair

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823