Patient resus at ocean swim wins national surf lifesaving award

Friday, 19 February 2016

The successful resuscitation of a heart attack victim on January 31 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. Event safety lifeguards at the Capital Classic Ocean Swim have won the the Central Region award for January, as well as being the overall national winner.

Around 20 lifeguards on paddleboards and in IRBs were providing event safety for the Capital Classic Ocean Swim in Wellington. A 72 year-old male competitor was completing the 3.3km swim and was approximately 30 metres from exiting the water at the finishing point when Worser Bay lifeguard Louise Brett witnessed him face down in the water.

She immediately paddled over to him and got him onto the front of her board and signalled to the closest IRB for assistance. He was unresponsive and not breathing.

The Maranui IRB (Anna McDonnell and Ben Teusse) arrived on scene to help retrieve the patient. Crewman and water safety coordinator Ben Flynn jumped into the water to help move him from the board to the IRB. Once in the boat, Louise gave the patient two rescue breaths and began compressions. The IRB proceeded to the emergency rendezvous point on Freyberg Beach.

Meanwhile, Ben was coordinating the on-water resources, ensuring that there were sufficient lifeguarding resources to cover the rest of the swim.

Fellow water safety coordinator Brent Harvey was coordinating with St John and clearing the beach for the incoming IRB. Lifeguards removed the patient from the IRB as soon as it the shore and he was carried approximately five meters up the beach. As this was the finishing area, there were around 1,000 members of public on the beach.

Brent commenced compressions and Worser Bay lifeguard Jack Malin set up the bag mask with assistance from St John who also set up the defibrillator. Lyall Bay lifeguard Abby Palmer arrived onshore to offer assistance; she is a qualified nurse and assisted with getting a line into the patient and monitoring his condition.

Brent was then relieved from compressions by St John and he retrieved oxygen and blankets (for privacy) from the ambulance.

The patient started breathing on his own and slowly regained consciousness. He expelled a significant amount of water and was able to talk to the paramedics and lifeguards. He continued to be monitored and oxygen administered. St John handed over to Wellington Free Ambulance and the patient was taken to Wellington Hospital where he recovered.

It is unlikely that the patient would have survived if it wasn't for the lifeguards' quick actions and CPR experience.

The lifeguards receive 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 response from the lifeguards was remarkable. "Since 1968 we have been proud to stand behind this amazing organisation that can literally make the difference between life and death," he says.

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

Northern: Orewa
Eastern/National- Tairua
Central- Wellington event lifeguards
Southern- Taylors Mistake

For more information, please contact:

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