Surf Lifeguards were among the recipients of the prestigious New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) Council Awards in Wellington tonight.
These awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievements in Search and Rescue nationwide.
Jackson Smith (Red Beach), Duncan Clarke (Piha), Nicholas Tomkins (Orewa), Leilani Fuemana and Simone Hollier (United North Piha) received a Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity for the rescue of a swimmer on North Piha Beach on November 24, outside of the Surf Life Saving patrol season.
The NZSAR Certificates of Achievement for Operational Activity are awarded for an important contribution to search and rescue in the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region.
Off duty lifeguard Jackson Smith was at Piha Beach when he was told a 19-year-old woman was missing in the rough conditions north of Lion Rock. After assessing the situation, Jackson dove into the water to assist. The victim's friend, also in the water, told him she thought her friend was dead, further out to sea.
Jackson found the patient face down and unconscious, 50 metres further on. With the help of bystanders, Jackson managed to retrieve the patient and immediately commenced CPR. This swift action saved this woman's life.
The Beach Education instructor team of Nick, Leilani and Simone, plus Piha lifeguard Duncan Clarke, also responded by taking the IRB to the scene. Upon arrival, they helped with CPR, and liaised by radio with the Police Eagle Helicopter. Duncan got in radio contact with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, which was close to landing at the scene. They handed over to the Westpac crew, with the patient unresponsive but now breathing.
The lifeguards continued to assist, loading the patient into the helicopter and providing scene control. The patient was flown to Auckland hospital in a serious condition, but alive.
There is no doubt this patient would not have survived had Jackson and the other lifeguards not been around the Piha area at the time. The skills that all the lifeguards brought together were a credit to their training, and were commended by the Westpac Helicopter crew and Police post the incident.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand lifesaving and education manager Allan Mundy says it was fantastic for Surf Life Saving to be honoured in this year's awards.
"This rescue was an outstanding example of a life being saved but it also demonstrated the skill and confidence that lifeguards gain through their training to implement in their every days lives; allowing them to step in and make a difference, saving lives in their communities," he says.
The award was presented by the Hon Craig Foss, Associate Minister of Transport.
Visit http://nzsar.org.nz/ for more information.
Jackson Smith, Nicholas Tomkins, Leilani Fuemana, Simone Hollier and Duncan Clarke. Photo: Mark Coote