Otago SAR Squad Awarded 3rd Place for March '22 bp Rescue of the Month

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

A speedy response saves group caught in a rip at St Kilda Beach.

One evening on St Kilda Beach, Dunedin's most dangerous beach, conditions were dangerous with 1.5m surf and extreme rips and holes present. Edward Priest, a University of Otago student and Lifeguard at Sumner Beach in Christchurch happened to be at the beach with his mates.  

Edward spotted some people getting dragged out in a rip and his Lifeguard training and instincts kicked into action. He responded by grabbing a stranger’s surfboard and paddling out with another surfer to keep the people in the rip afloat.  

Meanwhile, an off-duty Police Officer alerted the Search & Rescue team leader of the people in the rip. Minutes later, Search & Rescue team members, Cam and Max arrived at the club. Cam immediately jumped in the water swimming with two rescue tubes and an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) was quickly launched. The response time of the call out time was exceptionally swift, taking place within 10 minutes of the initial alert. 

One of the patients who was rescued by the surfboard, before being transferred to one of the tubes was bordering on unconsciousness by the time the IRB picked them up. The Lifeguards responding to the incident switched from providing on-water care to supporting St John with first aid and patient monitoring. 

This rescue highlights why lifeguards do their training and the importance of the motto of “in it for life”, without the speedy response provided that evening these people would have drowned. 

bp Head of Country NZ Matt Elliott says, “bp has been in partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for 54 years and is so proud to support the organisation’s efforts in keeping us all safer at our beaches. This rescue is a great illustration of the incredible difference Surf Lifeguards make on our beaches across the country.”