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David Westby (Point Lookout SLSC) and Paul Dowdell (Shelly Beach SLSC)

The bravery and dedication of surf lifesavers across the months of April – June were recognised at Parliament House in Canberra today, where they were presented with Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Rescue of the Month award for valiant surf rescues.

Surf lifesavers from North Stradbroke Island and the Central Coast were acknowledged for their ongoing commitment to keeping Australia’s beaches and communities safe.

The ceremony was attended by Co-Chairs of Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving, Sarah Henderson MP, Federal Member for Corangamite and the Hon Matt

Thistlethwaite MP, Federal Member for Kingsford Smith,  SLSA President Graham Ford AM, with the awards being presented by Federal Members including Mr Andrew Lamming MP, Federal Member for Bowman and Ms Lucy Wicks MP, Federal Member for Robertson.

SLSA President Mr. Graham Ford AM said that the presentation of this quarter’s National Rescues of the Month are perfect examples of surf lifesavers who risk their lives to save others, following the release of SLSA’s National Coastal Safety report also at Parliament House today.

“In 2018, 110 people drowned in Australia’s coastal waters.

“The swift actions of these surf lifesavers saved three lives and without their commitment to surf lifesaving, many more may have been lost.

“I would like to say thank you to our surf lifesavers here today and all surf lifesavers who volunteer their time to patrol Australia’s beaches every season,” said Mr. Ford.

Please find below a brief outline of this quarters ‘Rescues of the Month’.

Point Lookout SLSC

Lifesavers involved David Westby and Oliver Meyer

On Saturday 7th April around 2:30 pm two teenagers were swept into a rip current on unpatrolled Frenchman’s Beach on Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island.

A passer-by alerted Point Lookout SLSC to the situation. Club captain Michael Stone, radioed nearby patrol captains to deploy inflatable rescue boats to retrieve the teenagers.

The IRB driver at Cylinder Beach decided it was unsafe to proceed due to three-metre swells and the group of rocks to access Frenchman’s beach, so remained on standby.

A second IRB, crewed by surf lifesavers Dave Westby and Ollie Meyer, struggled through 2-3-metre swells and a strong south-easterly wind to reach the pair.

By heading 200-300 metres out to sea to then retreat safely back through the breakers enabling the boat to approach the male and female without rolling. Upon reaching the young pair, they noted the male was floating on his back, exhausted.

The difficult sea conditions meant that they had to make multiple runs before finally getting both swimmers on board. The pair were then returned to shore where waiting patrol members Andy and Joel Pryor had been dispatched from Point Lookout SLSC. Oxygen was administered to the male, who was having difficulty breathing, and an ambulance called to transport the pair to hospital for observation.

Surf Life Saving Central Coast

Lifesavers involved David Smith (Terrigal SLSC) Paul Dowdell (Shelly Beach SLSC)

On Wednesday 6 June 2018 at around 3:00 pm, an emergency call for assistance was received by the Central Coast Duty Officer after a man was cut-off by a rising tide while exploring Snapper Cave.

Two Duty Officers, the Central Coast Support Operations, and members from the local Aquatic Rescue Team all raced to the scene upon receiving the call joining police and paramedics.

Just after 4:30 pm, conditions had subsided sufficiently to allow David Smith Rescue Water Craft (RWC) Operator and Swimmer Paul Dowdell to launch the RWC from Frazer Beach.

This was a particularly hazardous launch given the swell size, difficult currents, wind, and chop.

Inside Snapper Cave, David saw the swell was too large to attempt a landing of the RWC and made the call to dispatch Paul to swim inside Snapper Cave.

Upon Paul’s arrival to the patient, the patient was assessed and it establishing he was uninjured and keen to make his escape. Using his surf awareness, Paul and the patient timed the entry back into the water and swam out of the cave and onto the RWC sled.

The patient was transported back to shore where he was assessed by paramedics and given a clean bill of health.

This was an example of excellent coordination of skilled and professional lifesavers and cooperation’s between agencies resulting in the successful rescue of the patient.

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