St Kilda SLSC Awarded 3rd Place for February '22 bp Rescue of the Month

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Off-duty lifeguard rescues trio from dangerous rip.

St Kilda volunteer Lifeguard, Rob Ratten had just finished eating his lunch outside the surf club and was about to leave the beach, but he could see two people coming close to the rip and decided to keep an eye on them.  

That day there was no patrol on duty and no flags on the beach. There were two large strong rips right in front of the surf club which is where the people had chosen to swim. Surf conditions were around 1m, choppy with light winds and two large strong rips were working next to each other. 

Soon a group of people were sucked into the rip and Rob leapt to his feet, grabbing the board closest to him, which turned out to be a junior race board. While running to the water he noticed a third person caught in the rip.  

Fortunately, some nearby boogie boarders helped the three swimmers stay afloat in the rip until Rob got in the water and tried to pull the man who looked the most tired onto the board. Unable to get him up on the board, Rob had to swim the man back to shore. He returned to the water and rescued the second man on the board, then went back for the third despite being “pretty tired by then". The final man was too exhausted to climb onto the board and had to be swum back to shore as well.  

While Rob was performing this amazing rescue a member of the public had phoned the Police to alert them of what was happening. The Police were in the process of dispatching the Otago Search & Rescue Squad while Rob managed to get all three patients to shore. Otago Search & Rescue Squad team leader, Max Corboy, had been notified of the incident and was only two minutes away from the beach at the time.  

When Max and the Police arrived, they described seeing Rob doing an outstanding job which resulted in the lives of three men being saved. Max and the Police staff on the scene all stated that without Rob’s quick reaction to this incident there would have been three fatalities that day. His quick thinking and reaction to this incident were absolutely heroic. 

bp Head of Country NZ Matt Elliott says, “bp is immensely proud to have partnered with Surf Life Saving New Zealand since 1968. The skills and bravery of Surf Lifeguards continue to impress our bp team and this rescue is another example of these amazing efforts.” 

(Image Credit: Otago Daily Times)