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October, a team of surf lifesavers from Burning Palms SLSC, led by first time patrol captain Annabel Braithwaite-Young, assisted in the successful treatment and extraction of a severely injured man at the famed Figure Eight Pools in Sydney’s south.

The surf lifesavers were patrolling at the isolated beach at around 10:15 am when a member of the public alerted them to the fact that a man had fallen off the cliff while walking to the Figure Eight Pools.

One of the challenges of this rescue was that the incident occurred in an area that is extremely difficult to access. After heading to the scene (which has no road access) the group found the man with serious injuries to his head, arm, legs, ribs and back, having fallen from an estimated height of 5-10 metres.

It was immediately apparent that the man would require helicopter evacuation. In spite of poor radio reception in the immediate area, the patrol was able to establish radio communication with the State Operations Centre (SOC) who provided support. Annabel Braithwaite-Young rallied the patrol to not only take immediate control of the rescue, including managing bystanders to create a safe extraction point, but also ensure that the beach and a Nipper training session were still supervised.

The team provided initial first aid to the man who was in a distressed state. They kept him calm and administered oxygen while also providing regular radio updates on his condition to the SOC.

As a serious and high-profile incident close to Sydney, significant media attention was focused on both Burning Palms, and the area in general. The lifesavers involved used the opportunity to reinforce safety messages and acted as strong ambassadors for their club and for the wider movement.

The professionalism and dedication of the patrolling lifesavers is to be commended. They responded appropriately under very challenging circumstances and were able to play their part in what ranks as one of the more difficult rescues imaginable.

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