Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service take out first place in bp Rescue of the Month for rescuing rock fishermen

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service lifeguards have, for the second consecutive month, taken out first place in the bp Rescue of the Month award. The lifeguards involved in this particular rescue were Malcolm Beattie OBE, Harry Barea, Caleb Calkin, Jack Daniels, Judd Redmond, Quinn Rimmer and Kelly Wallace.


At approximately 9.50 am on Christmas Day, Malcolm Beattie observed five people with fishing equipment entering the beach via the access way at Sunset Beach. He went down to the beach to alert them of the incoming tide and surf conditions, and that it was a dangerous time to go rock fishing. Through sign language, the group communicated they could not speak English, but Malcolm was confident they understood his warning. Having thought they understood, Malcolm attended to other tasks in the club and left the beach area. He returned later to help set up the patrol that was due to start at 11.00 am. Upon his return, Malcolm saw the fishermen on the rocky areas around the southern end of the patrol tower beyond the cove. Two fishermen were trapped on the rocks, another two were trying unsuccessfully to scale the cliffs, and one was trying to make their way back to the beach. Due to the incoming tide, the squad decided an in-water rescue was required.


Malcolm was the only volunteer lifeguard on the beach so he alerted the Regional Lifeguards who were about to start setting up their patrol equipment. Lifeguards launched an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) within five minutes.


Malcolm and new Patrol Captain Kelly Wallace set up base at the rescue tower. Malcolm helped guide Kelly and the lifeguards through the rescue as he was the only one with knowledge of the local area, which was vital for this rescue. Due to the conditions and rising swell, the IRB driver, Caleb Calkin, could not gain access to the beach area. Quinn Rimmer swam to the rocks to assist the fishermen while the team worked on an alternative plan to get the fishermen off the rocks..


Local Sunset Beach Surf Lifeguards were spotted surfing nearby. Signals were used to attract their attention and get them back to shore. Judd Redmond, a qualified Rescue Water Craft (RWC) driver and Jack Daniels joined the rescue efforts. 


Judd took an RWC out while Jack paddled out on a rescue board. Both arrived at the fishermen within five minutes which was exceptional in the conditions. Judd was able to manoeuvre the RWC close enough to the rocks to get the two patients most at risk off the rocks and delivered them to Quinn Rimmer, who was in the water nearby to assist and return them to the IRB.


The fishermen, who had attempted to scale the cliff, were rescued by Judd on the RWC after manoeuvring into another safe position to bring them to safety. Meanwhile, Jack picked up the other patient and secured him safely onto his rescue board. All the patients were taken to the awaiting IRB and returned to shore. One of the patients was suffering from mild hypothermia and dehydration and was attended to and monitored in the club’s first aid room. All five patients warmed up at the club and were then able to return home.


This was a great example of solid teamwork gained through sound training and an opportunity for some to learn new skills whilst being mentored.


bp Head of Country NZ, Matt Elliott, says bp is proud to support incredible volunteer Surf Lifeguards like those who make up the Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service.


“Since 1968 bp has been proud to stand behind Surf Life Saving New Zealand and its Surf Lifeguards who consistently put their amazing skills into action to keep us all safer at our beaches.”


Andy Kent, Surf Life Saving New Zealand National Lifesaving Manager said that this rescue was a great example of the proactive interventions Surf Lifeguards perform when on patrol.


“Our lifeguards are trained to be vigilant and intervene to help people make better decisions before they get into trouble. In this case, the lifeguards warned the fishermen of the dangers, but they ignored that advice and still headed out on the rocks. The lifeguards initiated a proactive rescue before the fishermen were swept into the sea and they saved five lives.”


As the first-place winner of bp Rescue of the Month, the Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service will be recognised with $500-worth of bp gift vouchers and a framed citation to display at their club.


Two Waitarere Beach Surf Lifesaving Club lifeguards, Andrew Burns and Josh Sawyer, have won recognition for their rescue of a boatie, taking out second place in the bp Rescue of the Month for December 2022.