Teamwork Prevents Rocky Outcome for 4 Teens as Taranaki ECOS Take 1st Place in bp Rescue of the Month

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Press release

February 23, 2021

[Image: Taranaki Emergency Call-Out Squad]

Dusk was falling on the 5th of January when the Taranaki Emergency Call-Out Squad (ECOS) received a call from the local Police Search & Rescue team that four teenage girls were stuck on Pararaki Rock at Back Beach, New Plymouth.

At low tide, it’s possible to walk to Pararaki Rock, but as soon as the tide changed the girls found themselves stranded. Strong currents and impending nightfall loomed, and the girls made the potentially life-saving decision to call for help using a cell phone housed in a waterproof bag.

Rescue swimmer Andy Cronin was the first to arrive. He swam through the strong current and found the four girls before checking they hadn’t sustained any injuries. The group then moved to a more sheltered position and waited for backup to arrive.

Cronin assessed the safest place for the inflatable rescue boat (IRB) to meet the group and radioed ahead to set up a plan. He then guided the girls down to the safest site for the IRB to collect them.

Fellow ECOS members, Scott Nelson and Richard Matheson, arrived a short time later on an IRB. Two at a time, Cronin guided the girls down the sharp rocks in dim light to a point where they could be transferred into the IRB. Nelson held the IRB in position despite the strong currents so that Cronin and Matheson could help them in.

Two of the girls were dropped at the beach before Nelson and Matheson navigated in low light through the rough surf back to Cronin and the remaining two girls. Whilst the IRB was away, Cronin managed to climb back up the rocks to retrieve and again guide down – in even darker conditions -the last two girls.

It was nightfall by the time all members if the group had been returned to safety. Dave Bentley, who heads the Taranaki ECOS, says the teamwork displayed in this rescue was key to ensuring a happy outcome.

“The teamwork of splitting-up and having the patients assessed, briefed and ready to be transferred into the IRB enabled the job to be completed promptly and efficiently,” he says.

‘The combination of an outgoing tide, a strong westerly wind and nightfall culminated in a number of high risk factors for the four females rescued. The expertise and professionalism of the team to act swiftly, remain calm and continue to conduct ongoing risk assessments in challenging surf and light conditions, proved to be almost certain prevention to a drowning should the females attempted to swim back in the dangerous dark conditions.”

bp Head of Country NZ, Matt Elliott, says bp is proud to support incredible Surf Lifesaving teams like the Taranaki ECOS.

“bp has been in partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for 53 years and is so proud to support the organisation’s efforts in keeping us all safer at our beaches,” he says. “This rescue is a great illustration of the incredible difference Surf Lifeguards make on our beaches across the country.”

As the first-place winner of bp Rescue of the Month, the Taranaki ECOS will be recognised with $500-worth of bp gift vouchers.


  • Let lifeguards know. If you can’t see any lifeguards, CALL 111 & ASK FOR THE POLICE. They have a direct line to both Surf Life Saving New Zealand and Coastguard.



SLSNZ is the national association representing 74 surf lifesaving clubs with 18,000+ members, including more than 4,500 volunteer Surf Lifeguards. Our lifeguards patrol over 90 locations each summer and provide emergency call-out rescue services throughout Aotearoa, saving hundreds of lives each year and ensuring thousands return home safe after a day at the beach.

We do all this as a charity and rely on the generosity of the public, commercial partners, foundations and trusts for donations and financial contributions in order to lead and support our incredible front-line volunteer lifeguarding services.

For more information, please contact:

Mackenzie Koppel

Media and Communications Manager

Surf Life Saving NZ

021 757 433