bp Rescue of the Month - 2023/2024 March

Monday, 22 April 2024

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) would like to congratulate the Northern Region recipient of the 2023/2024 March bp Rescue of the Month.

The monthly award acknowledges the commitment and expertise displayed by surf lifeguards, showcasing their skills and training in searches, rescues, and first-aids.

Throughout March, surf lifeguards around the country responded to a range of incidents.  In the Northern Region, one incident showed the incredible range of skills possessed by surf lifeguards and their critical role in keeping watch over beachgoers.

Steve Fisher, SLSNZ CEO, said, “I’d like to acknowledge Omaha Beach Surf Life Saving Club for receiving the Northern Region March bp Rescue of the Month.  Although the outcome of this incident was absolutely tragic, all the surf lifeguards involved showed bravery, empathy, and teamwork. 

“Every year lives are sadly lost along Aotearoa’s coastline, and every one of these lives weighs heavily on the Surf Life Saving community.  Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the person’s friends and whānau during this difficult time.”

Omaha Beach SLSC will be presented with a $250 bp gift card.  They will also be finalists for the prestigious Rescue of the Year, which is announced at the annual SLSNZ Awards of Excellence.

Haley Mahoney, bp Head of Country, said, “bp would like to congratulate Omaha Beach SLSC.  Each week, surf lifeguards dedicate their time to keep watch over New Zealand’s beaches, often putting their skills to the test.  The iconic red and yellow uniforms they wear serve as a reassuring symbol for many, and we take pride in supporting them as they carry out their vital work.”


Please note that there is no Eastern Region, Central Region, or Southern Region 2023/2024 March recipients as no nominations were received.


Northern Region bp Rescue of the Month

Winner:  Omaha Beach Surf Life Saving Club

Bella McCormick Jacob O'Flaherty, Rohan Whitaker, Rob Earley, Matt Craig, Miriama Iversen, David Stone

On 9 March 2024, at 3pm, surf lifeguards from Omaha Beach Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) were alerted to a person in trouble three kilometres down the beach at the opening of the estuary.

Three members were on patrol at the time: Patrol Captain Bella McCormick, Jacob O’Flaherty, and Rob Earley.

Bella and Jacob quickly launched an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) with an oxygen kit and a defibrillator onboard as precaution.

They soon located a man unresponsive in the water.  Jacob jumped in and pulled the man into the IRB with help from Bella.  As the estuary is extremely tidal, with strong currents, swimming and negotiating the IRB in these conditions was no easy feat.

Being at least two minutes away from the main beach, Bella made the decision to return to the closest spit of land where they began performing CPR.

A bystander on the spit rushed to aid the pair.  However, with no experience in compressions, Bella had to direct the woman to help so one surf lifeguard would be free for radio communications and setting up the defibrillator.

Back at Omaha Beach SLSC, several young off-duty surf lifeguards and a member of the Search and Rescue (SAR) squad rushed to aid the patrol.  This then allowed Rob Earley and Rohan Whitaker to make their way to the scene, which was only accessible by foot.  SAR member Matt Craig also arrived to provide assistance.

Off-duty surf lifeguards Miriama Iverson and David Stone helped paramedics to the location, and shortly after they arrived, sadly declared the man deceased.

The steps taken in this tragic incident showcased the aptitude of the surf lifeguards and their ability to adapt to an extremely challenging situation.

SLSNZ would like to acknowledge the tragic outcome of this incident as well as the man’s friends and whānau who will be feeling his loss deeply.  Our thoughts are with them.