Whangamata SLSC Awarded 2nd Place for February '22 bp Rescue of the Month

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Lifeguards save the day when two brothers’ trip to Clarke Island goes wrong. 

Hauturu, or Clark Island, is accessible by wading at low tide and is popular in summer months for rock-pool fossickers and kayakers. Two Whangamata Lifeguards, Jules & Dominic, were setting up an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) training arena when a member of the public approached them and advised that two men were attempting to walk across to Clark Island and appeared to have taken the wrong path and were have trouble making the crossing.  

An IRB was launched and sent in the direction advised by the member of the public and the lifeguards located one of the men approximately 150m north of Clarke Island who was straddling a chilly bin to keep himself afloat. He was visibly distressed and he called for help as he saw the lifeguards approach. Jules pulled the IRB alongside the man and Dominic helped him to safety. As soon as he was safe inside the boat the man asked after his brother, who had also been making the crossing to the island.  

The man’s brother was quickly located closer to shore, making his way in through the chest-deep surf. After checking to see if he was managing ok, the lifeguards remained alongside him in the IRB as he made his way to the beach.  

Back on shore, the lifeguards carried out a patient assessment on both men. The man found using the chilly bin for flotation was alert and had not taken on any water, however, he was visibly shaken by the experience. He informed the Lifeguards that he had been making his way to the island on a low-tide crossing when he lost his footing and was washed out of his depth. As he was not a good swimmer, he was unable to return to the bar or back to shore. Fortunately, he had a chilly bin to help keep him afloat. The Lifeguards gave the men safety advice and some knowledge of the area and its hazards before they departed. 

The man who was rescued was low in the water and not visible beyond the shore break from the beach. He was extremely fortunate to be spotted by a member of the public and that lifeguards were already in the area with IRBs. Without the intervention of Jules & Dominic, this situation could easily have resulted in a fatality. 

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.”