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rescue people who have found themselves in trouble.

There are three levels of awards,

  • Certificate of Merit
  • Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion insert, and
  • Certificate of Merit with Silver Medallion insert,

These are awarded to both individuals and groups where there is a high to very high level of risk to the rescuer combined with very good to optimal application of skills and supporting systems

The group or club award is issued for rescues of exceptional merit, in which a group of members are involved and where no individuals can be singled out for an award.

Surf Life Saving Australia have awarded the following individuals and groups meritorious awards.

Group Certificate of Merit

Tallebudgera SLSC, Pacific SLSC & Operational Support, QLD

Warren Crane, Jared Adamso, Tom Scott, Ken Lloyd, Kyal Thornton, Joel Cran, Scott Burges, Brent Imri, Michelle Slatter, Regan Hickey

Warren was on his way from the flag area at Tallebudgera to replace the shift at the Tallebudgera outpost on the creek. He observed multiple people swimming in a rip who looked to be in trouble. He immediately radioed for the Talle IRB who was doing roving patrols.

In the IRB was driver Jared, and crewman Tom. Waverunner 3 operator Scott was currently off Palm Beach when he heard the radio call. He immediately proceeded to the rescue area. When Scott arrived on the wave runner, he noticed five people clinging to the IRB in the break zone with 2meter waves hitting the IRB.

Scott assisted the IRB team by getting two patients onto the sled, while Jared and Tom managed to get the other three into the IRB. While the IRB returned to shore with the patients, Scott noticed two other people struggling in the rip. He went to their rescue, managed to get one person onto the ski while keeping an eye on the remaining patient until the IRB could return to the area to pick up the remaining patient.

The IRB and the wave runner returned to shore with the 4 remaining patients. Warren Crane with his son Joel, IRB crew Jared and Tom then started examining the patients. One patient who had ingested a lot of water, started dropping in and out of consciousness.  Scott then placed the patient into the recovery position and sent Joel back to the flags for the first aid kit, oxygen and defib. Scott called for backup from Duty Officers located at Talle Creek and asked SurfCom to arrange for an ambulance to attend.

Michelle and Regan from Pacific drove to the incident with their ATV to assist while Patrol Captain Kyal also attended. An off-duty paramedic also came to assist.

Duty Officer Ken was a registered nurse so took over management of the patient who was now receiving oxygen therapy. Not long after this the patient stopped breathing and CPR commenced. The defib was applied to the patient but no shock was advised.

Brent continued to manage the scene, including coordinating Talle Patrol Members, Queensland Police, Media, members of the public as well as the other six rescued patients and their families. A second patient also needed attention as he had ingested a lot of water.

All seven rescued patients survived.

There is little doubt the patient who stopped breathing would not have survived without Warren’s immediate assessment of the unfolding situation and Ken Lloyds expert medical assistance. All seven owe their lives to the quick response and exemplary coordination between the two Surf Clubs, Duty Officers and Support Operations.

Group Certificate of Merit

The Lakes SLSC, NSW

Johnny Walker, David Solman, Ben McCulkin, Brayden Hawkins, Cooper Sweeney, Daniel Lahey

The group of children began to struggle, shouting for help. The rip was pulling the group closer to the sharp rocks along the northern headland at Soldiers Beach. Ben McCulkin saw the commotion from the car park and ran to the area to render assistance. Although Ben had no flotation device, he managed to retrieve three swimmers, returning them safely to the shore, before making his way back out to the group where he rescued another four children.

Brayden Hawkins, and Johnny Walker had also observed the incident. They quickly made their way to where seven more members of the group had been washed onto the rocks.

They promptly rendered assistance and returned the children to the safety of the beach. Dave Solman and several members of the public using a racing mal, immediately paddled out to four swimmers still in distress.

Daniel Lahey and Cooper Sweeney who were undertaking their Bronze Medallion, assisted with guiding the children safely to shore. Dave & Ben returned to the water to retrieve the remaining two swimmers that had now been pulled a further 150 meters from the beach.

Dave and Ben quickly realised that they would not be able to safely return the pair to the shore, so they made the decision to return via a safe, flat area of the rocks at the front of the headland.

Brayden was located on the rocks to guide Dave and Ben to safety using signals.

In total 18 children were rescued that day. Once all the swimmers had been safely returned to shore, the team then rendering basic first aid for the many cuts, bruises and abrasions incurred on the sharp, slippery rocks.

If the team from The Lakes had not acted so swiftly and professionally this mass rescue would have ended in tragedy.

Group Certificate of Merit

Avalon Beach SLSC, NSW

Avalon Beach faced challenging conditions on Sunday, 2 January for both the morning and afternoon patrols. With 71 recorded rescues during the course of the day it was very much an ‘all hands-on deck’ scenario for the members.

Cyclone Seth was driving 1-1.5 meter swells onto the beach pushing water over a bank and into a gutter before meeting the shoreline. The gutter rip on its own, was easily pushing people outside of the flags, quickly finding swimmers off guard. Due to the conditions multiple rescues were occurring at any one time, quickly stretching resources.

Rips were running at both north and south ends of the beach on the low tide challenging the Avalon patrols with what was believed to be record numbers on the beach that day. The Club made the call to bring in reinforcements to keep the beach open and safe for the record crowds so they could continue to support the many beach goers.

The Avalon Beach average patrol size is 11. On that January day, the club pulled in an additional 20+ members with close to 30 members supporting the team throughout the day.

Without a doubt, Avalon recalls the day as the biggest multiple rescue event on record for the club. The events of that day were a testament to the dedication and commitment shown by the Avalon Beach members on what was its most the toughest of days.

Group Certificate of Merit

Port Kembla SLSC, NSW

Mark Peterlin, Dan Meehan

At approximately 4 pm on the 18th May the Port Kembla patrol received a call for assistance, fishermen had been swept from rocks nearby in the same hazardous location where five fishermen had drowned in the past 12 months.

Without a licensed driver, off duty member Mark Peterlin agreed to drive, Dan Meehan joined him to crew the boat. The team made two attempts to break through the wash, but the swell was huge and unrelenting, then men decided to turn back. Seeing a lull in the waves, they again decided to go for it, they narrowly made it over two waves before getting to deeper water.

The pair estimated the location of the fishermen was 500 meters offshore. They negotiated reefs and rocks and breaking waves till they located the distressed group. Also at the scene was a police helicopter and Police Boat laying off the area. On the rocks were more police were waving to get their attention, directing back towards the rocks.

With the noise and spray of the helicopter it was impossible to use the radio’s. Mark and Dan conducted a visual sweep of the immediate area and saw a man threading water. Dan quickly assisted the person into the IRB assessing him and calming him down. He explained he had entered the water to help his friend who he believed was still in the water. Using the patients’ directions, Mark and Dan took the IRB as close as they could to the rocks, all the while they ensuring the safety of the patient and the boat as they were very close to rocks with the large sets pushing them closer every minute.

The wash and sound from the over-head helicopter made vision difficult and hearing impossible. By now two jet skis had arrived to assist the other resources. The person removed from the water was becoming hypothermic. The team determined it was too dangerous to land him at Port Kembla Beach due to the difficulties experienced getting out earlier. The safety and wellbeing of the would-be rescuer was their main aim. The pair drove the IRB around the rocks and landed him in the safety on Fisherman’s Beach, which is usually calm and protected. On returning, the seas had altered the headland and they were forced to drive around the Rocky Island and once there, they resumed searching.

Another Council Lifeguard’s Jet Ski had arrived and they held One Jet Ski so that the duty officer could tow one driver who wore a mask, to try and locate the body. More Council Lifeguard arrived to help. There were 3 Jet Skis there. It was getting dark, making any safe attempts at a rescue very dangerous for the crews in the water. On advising the police, the jet skis returned to the beach, fatigued and cold after several hours of searching for the fisherman. Sadly the fisherman lost his life that day.

Individual Certificate of Merit

Avoca Beach SLSC, NSW

Gordon Jones

Gordon (Gordo) had spent the morning keeping board riders outside of the flags and controlling the growing New Year’s crowd at Avoca Beach.

Upon the patrol changeover, Gordo spotted three men walking down the beach and directly into the water at the mouth of a huge rip located in front of second pines. The large rip was moving rapidly, and as soon as the men entered the water, he sensed danger. Not wanting to take his eyes off the men, he yelled out to Felicity (his daughter) to grab the radio from the patrol tent. The rest of the patrol were in the process of handing over with the afternoon patrol. He radioed through for assistance and sped to their rescue in the ATV. The rip was so powerful that in the time of leaving the flags to arriving at the rip, the swimmers had been sweep from 10m offshore to 50m.

Gordo grabbed the board from the ATV and using the rip, paddling past the first two men who reached for his board for assistance. However, Gordo knew that their friend, who was further out, was in immediate need of assistance, so he yelled at the men to swim parallel towards the bank. The 3rd man was now climbing the ladder 80m offshore and in the impact zone. When Gordo got to the man he had stopped struggling and was lifeless. As he began pulling him onto the board, a powerful 5ft set washed over their heads, ripping the man from Gordos safety. Gordo searched for the man after the impact, but he was nowhere to be seen. As Gordo searched, sitting up on his board he felt the man’s head with his foot. He dived down, pulled the man back onto his board, and paddled the man to shore to assess his condition.

All three men survived.

Gordo later reflected this was the ‘biggest and scariest’ day of his lifesaving career.

Group Certificate of Merit

Bundaberg SLSC, QLD

John McGregor, Riley McGregor

On 15 January 2018 at 6:15pm John McGregor and his wife Marilyn were at their Bargara, QLD home when they spotted several swimmers being dragged out in a rip at the northern end of Kelly’s Beach.

John grabbed a racing board from their house, while Marilyn called her son Riley who lives nearby to assist. John paddled out retrieving the most distressed swimmer, with Riley arriving and swimming out with a rescue tube to the furthest swimmer and returning them to shore.

Once John had returned the first swimmer, he paddled back out and retrieved two more swimmers bringing them back into shore safely. Jessie Rodgers and Marilyn provided care for the patients as Riley and some members of the public searched the water for another missing person.

However, it was subsequently confirmed that all patients had been safely returned to shore, so the search was called off. Without the quick thinking of John and Marilyn, and John and Riley remaining calm and applying their surf lifesaving skills, the outcome would have been much different for the four swimmers.

Group Certificate of Merit

Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Southern

Rick Waldon, Clayton Allison, Hayden Sorrell

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked by NSW Police with a report of two people sighted in the water face down at La Perouse off Henry’s Head. The crew arrived on scene and observed a small boat had washed up onto rocks just to the west of Pussycat Bay. The swell was large and crashing across the rocks.

Immediately the crew observed one person face down in water approximately 200 meters offshore.  The aircrew winched down the rescue swimmer who recovered this person and bought them back into the aircraft where they immediately commenced emergency first aid.

The aircrew officer then sighted the second person. After securing the first patient, they commenced a second winch operation, recovering the second person and returning them to the aircraft.

A third person was then identified in the water. The Ambulance Helicopter arrived on scene and were directed to this person while the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter flew back to the Lifesaver Base where shortly after several ambulances and Police arrived.

The ambulance and helicopter crew worked on both people in an attempt to restore life.  Tragically and despite all efforts the three people did not survive the accident.

This rescue is meritorious due to the nature of the winches in challenging surf and wind conditions and the proximity to rocks.

Group Certificate of Merit

Shelly Beach SLSC, NSW

Maoiu La Gavia, Angel La Gavia, Jazzmyn Fillingham, Huxely Luntungan, Riley Wait, Aston Walters, Jeremie Camgrand, Keaton Watts, Christain Wait, Chris Fillingham, Julie-Ann Fillingham, Rob Coote, Saxon Lumsden, Wade Clemens

It was late afternoon on 22 February 2021 at Toowoon Bay Beach, when a local kite boarder spotted a group of swimmers in a large rip approximately 400m out to sea. Two young members of Shelly Beach who were in the water at the time immediately rushed to assist.

Arriving at the swimmers, Maoiu assessed that the group needed additional help so sent Angel back to shore. On shore Julie-Ann and Chris coordinated other members to assist the rescue efforts.

Jazzmyn, Huxely, Riley, Aston and Jeremie, without hesitation, paddled out thru large surf to the patients in trouble. Chris and Julie-Ann were then informed that the original group of four had been separated and another patient was still missing. Chris and Julie-Ann promptly called 000 and procured more resources including two off duty Lifeguards.

Fortunately, the missing swimmer was quickly located about 400 meters north of the other swimmers. Keaton and Christian commenced paddling out to locate the patient.

The ski was launched and immediately went to the aid of the single swimmer. Jazzmyn, Huxely, Riley, Aston, Maoiu and Jeremie paddled all three patients back through the large surf and rips returning them safely to the beach where they were handed over to the waiting ambulance services for assessment and treatment.  The solid teamwork and sound communication of the Shelly Beach members saved lives that day.

Group Certificate of Merit

Avalon Beach SLSC, NSW

Zachary Dale, Todd Barber

On Saturday, 19 March Avalon Beach received a Surfcom call to support a mayday call from a 35ft boat taking on water North of the Beach, off Careel Point.

With 45km winds and a 4–5-meter swell, Todd and Zachary launched the IRB and made their way to the scene. Challenging conditions met the IRB as it navigated its way to the boat off the Point.

On arrival Todd and Zachary found three people clinging to what was remaining of the submerged boat, just above the waterline.

Within minutes of getting the patients on board the IRB, the boat quickly sunk out of sight. Any later the rescue scenario would have been completely different. Shortly after the IRB was joined by a Rescue Water Craft as well as a second IRB from Whale Beach. All assisted in returning the patients to calmer waters.

The conditions facing Zachary and Todd that day required a high level of knowledge and skill to be able to navigate the high winds and big swells. Their understanding of the capabilities of the IRB ensured a positive outcome for all involved.

Individual Certificate of Merit

Point Lookout SLSC, QLD

Colt Graham

On Saturday, 10 November Main Beach at Point lookout was closed due to treacherous conditions. Beach goers were seeking alternative locations for their swim on this warm spring day. South Gorge was also subject to the treacherous conditions.

On a roving patrol, 14 year old Colt and fellow member Lachlan observed swimmers caught in a flash rip. Assessing the situation, and using his knowledge of the headland area and the ocean currents, Colt decided the rescue tube was the quickest and safest means to reach the swimmers as a board would have been knocked around by the waves washed up on the rocks.

Whilst Colt retrieved the patients, Lachlan radioed the Main Beach patrol for back-up, and alerting the Ambulance Service of the situation.

Colt bravely returned all swimmers to safety, moving them to a near-by sand bank. His quick thinking and excellent delegation and communication skills were praised as being particularly mature for a 14 year old SRC member. Colt and Lachlan executed their duties flawlessly without hesitation, sending all swimmers safely home from the beach that day.

Group Certificate of Merit

West Beach SLSC, SA

Rhys Highett, Marcus Morgan

 At about 3pm on the 24th January 2021, a young family visited Goolwa Beach, about five kilometres from the patrolled area. The location they choose to swim is remote and the only access is via 4WD along the beach. The father and his two children decided to go for swim and catch a few waves on their boogie boards.

On that day the surf was between 0.5 and 1.5 metres, with a slight on-shore breeze causing mild chop along the water surface. There was a moderate rip running in the location they chose to swim at. The father, who was swimming, quickly found himself out of his depth, struggling to return to shore. The rip quickly took him out to sea. Other family members were unable to assist him and his female relatives on the beach started to yell for assistance.

Two by-standers who were driving past, were alerted by the screaming. The pair entered the water to try to assist the boy, however both were poor swimmers. Other bystanders had also stopped and called 000.

Meanwhile another car had been flagged down, containing Marcus and Rhys. The pair quickly assessed the situation and ran into the surf, alerting the by-standers they were Surf Life Savers. By this stage, the patient was not visible from shore. Marcus and Rhys quickly swam out through the rip. Out the back they sighted the patient, who was floating on his back struggling to keep his face above the water. When they reached him, he was exhausted and vomited. Marcus and Rhys worked together to tow the patient back towards shore through the surf, unaided by rescue equipment.

As they approached the shore, they were handed a boogie board and utilised this to return to shore. On the beach, they quickly assessed the patient who was breathing, semi- conscious but responsive. They remained with the patient until further assistance arrived, while also reassuring his family members. A short time later, other Surf Life Saving assets and the Police arrived. David was then transported to hospital in an Ambulance.

Marcus and Rhys’ actions that day not only saved a life but also prevented other inexperienced by-standers from a very dangerous situation.

Group Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion Inset

Avoca Beach SLSC, NSW

Brett Beswick, Peter Craik, Vincent Malone, Paul Nicholls, Andrew Collins, Andrew Manser, Christopher Hill, George Ruzek, Stuart Harvey, Lynette Vuradin

Saturday 15th January saw dangerous conditions at Avoca Beach with large over-head waves, strong currents and onshore winds.

At just after 4pm a group of four swimmers quickly lost their footing in the flags and were swept out to sea due to the large surf and strong currents. Raising their hands for help, patrol members Brett and Andrew responded immediately with assistance from former club member Levi Kasun. Using rescue boards, they quickly reached the patients. Levi had four people holding on to his rescue board.

A lone swimmer close by helped another man who was struggling to keep his head above water. There was extreme concern for this man’s welfare based on his condition. Brett quickly assessed the situation and bypassed three other swimmers to get to him who was in extreme danger of drowning. Brett promptly paddled the struggling man to shore and quickly paddled back out to help further swimmers in difficultly.

During this time, more swimmers had found themselves in trouble. Levi kept the four swimmers afloat for the IRB and jet ski to take them to shore. Andrew who also had several swimmers clinging to his board waited for further assistance. They kept the swimmers calm and safe in the large swell until the IRB was able to reach them.

Members around the club had seen the rescues unfolding and George ran down to assist Peter with launching the IRB to assist in the rescues. Former club members, Fletcher Berry and Kye Blair, who were nearby surfing, proceeded to assist, holding swimmers afloat. Patrol members Brett, Andrew, Paul, Andrew, Chris and Vince secured more swimmers using rescue boards, waiting for the IRB and jet ski to collect them.

Stuart arrived grabbing another board from the club, he promptly paddled out to rescue a female swimmer now in trouble in the southern corner rip.

It was the quick thinking and strong teamwork of patrol members and former club members that ensured the safety of these swimmers. The rescue required multiple members of the patrol, as well as surfers, to communicate clearly, and quickly assess which swimmers were in most urgent need of assistance. Fourteen people were rescued in this very intense mass rescue.

Individual Certificate of Merit with Bronze Insert

Bill James

In 1974, three tropical cyclones battered the Gold Coast and South-Eastern Queensland – Cyclone Wanda, Cyclone Pam, and Cyclone Zoe, hammering the coastline with destructive winds, flooding and damaging the already battered and denuded beachfront at Surfers Paradise.

It was recalled as an incredible period.

The Bureau of Meteorology measured the average wave height that day between four and five metres. Pam was intense, with high wind speeds producing extreme force waves. The young man rescued, had been board riding with a friend when conditions had rapidly changed. He lost his board and was dragged out to sea. Fortunately, he managed to hang on to the shark nets one kilometre offshore.

Lifeguards from various beaches had been alerted to the unfolding situation and had arrived to assist. ABC journalist Gary Scully referred to the tremendous effort by all on that day, sayingLifesavers put their wellbeing on the line that day in extremely hostile circumstances”.

Over the course of two hours, the first responders experienced many near misses using rescue boards or belts. They were either pummelled by the crashing waves or swept away from their arduous endeavours to reach the patient. Bill persevered and finally found a way through and secured the patient on a rescue board.

Bill and his patient were then swept further out to sea. As a massive set started capping behind them, Bill recalls there was no option but to turn and go. In Bills words “The ride in was unbelievably wild, none stop! I remember that as the swell lifted, I could see over the top of the three-story buildings, through to the hinterland behind”. An interesting antidote is that Bill was driving along the esplanade, saw a crowd gathering and had to borrow Harold ‘Whoopsie’ Phipps togs before he could head into the water.

Bill’s brave attitude and quick thinking saved the person’s life that day in a story that has become legend on Surfers Paradise beach.

Group Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion Inset


Jessika Hay, Charlie Florey, Paul Cootes

At approximately 6pm on Australia Day, an hour after a long day of patrolling had finished, Paul and Jessika noticed a group of people swimming near a dangerous rip at the south end of Garie Beach.

Seeing that four swimmers were now caught in the rip, Paul and Jess ran downstairs to the gear shed.  Jess  asked Paul to load the ATV with some first aid equipment and a rescue board and come to the beach. She then grabbed a few rescue tubes and ran down the beach to provide immediate assistance.

On arrival at the water’s edge, Jess conducted a quick risk assessment and identified that a male swimmer closest to the shore to be in most in need of assistance and swam out to rescue him. On returning to shore, she left the patient with Paul to assess while she went back out for the others.

Jess identified that a female patient, now separated from the group, was a further 50 metres out to sea. Jess prioritised her as the patient requiring the most immediate assistance and swam out and rescued her.

Jess then turned to locate the remaining two girls who were now over 100 metres to sea, she noticed they were screaming and were starting to go under. As she began her swim through the surf she noticed that Charlie, an off-duty Wattamolla Lifeguard who was surfing about 200 metres north of them, had heard the girls screams and paddled over to assist. Charlie had secured the two girls on his board. Jess joined him and took one of the girls in the rescue tube and swam her in while Charlie continued in with the other girl.

Upon reaching the shore Jess commenced a full assessment of all four patients. The first two patients were deemed stable whilst the third patient was placed in the recovery position to be assessed. The fourth patient was not showing signs of distress or water inhalation so was allowed to sit down and left to be watched over by some members of the public.

Jess then commenced a second triage on all patients. Patient two had begun drifting in and out of consciousness and displaying signs of shock. Although oxygen was being administered, this patient continued to deteriorate and over a short period of time her conscious state dropped. It soon became clear that she could not support her own breathing, so CPR was commenced by Jess and Paul.

At this time two Toll Rescue Helicopters arrived. Charlie, with some assistance from members of the public, cleared a space for the helicopters to land as additional emergency services began arriving. Charlie, Paul and Jess were estimated to be working alone, without assistance from emergency services, for over 40 minutes before additional resources arrived.

If it wasn’t for the quick response, patient prioritization and hard work of Jessika, Paul, Charlie and the local surfers that afternoon, there would have been four less people going home on Australia Day this year.

Group Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion Inset

Operations Support, SA

Chris Parson, Ashley Sanders, Steve Mitchell

The crew of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter (Adelaide) were on a coastal patrol when they were alerted to people in difficulty at Petrel Cove on the South Coast near Victor Harbor.

On arrival at the scene, the crew noted that Police, Ambulance, MFS, CFS and two Sea Rescue units were already in attendance. There was a large swell of three to four meters running with a lot of white water. The crew sighted a person in difficulty on a large sharp rock, being smashed by the heavy swell.

Due to the large swell and rocks, boats were unable to assist in this situation. Ambulance and fire crews were also attempting to climb down to assist but were unable to reach the patient.

Given the urgency, and due to the large unrelenting swell, the helicopter deployed a rescue swimmer to effect a teabag rescue using the static line. The aircrew and pilot had to calculate the drop of the rescue swimmer on to the rock area. This was a hazardous rescue as swells repeatedly hit the area, and it was essential that the rescue swimmer was able to reach the patient without getting washed off the rock and creating issues for the aircraft. Once the patient was secured, he was returned to the helicopter, and then transported to the waiting ambulance and police crews.

A second person was reported to have made it safely back to shore, while one person was still tragically missing. Were it not for the hard work undertaken by the helicopter crew, a second life would have been lost that day.

Group Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion Inset

Support Operations, SA

Cameron Burford, Bonnie Armour, Ella Langford

On Monday, 14 February Bonnie, Cameron and Ella where at Waitpinga Beach socialising with friends.

At around 5pm Bonnie heard a child screaming from the water. As this was occurring, an unknown male ran over to Bonnie taking her body-board. The male ran into the water and Bonnie followed with some fins. Bonnie could see three people in the water, all separated and each somewhere between 10-25 metres away. The male rescuer retreated at this point as the conditions were over-whelming and beyond his ability. Bonnie ran back to the beach, instructing her friend to call the Police, quickly retrieved her body board and headed back to the water.

Further down the beach Cameron and Ella heard a male yelling on the shoreline. Cameron saw a body-board floating in the water, so he grabbed this, and headed out to a female that he could see around 20 metres offshore. Cameron reached the female, put her onto the body-board, and then preceded to swim parallel to the shore to escape a rip that he was in.

Meanwhile, Ella swam out to a male, who was now lying face down in the water. Ella reached the male and turned him over and realised that he had stopped breathing. A second unknown male rescuer came to her aid and upon reaching her took control of the male and proceeded to shore.

At that moment Ella heard the screams of a child and saw a young female in the water, a further 25 metres offshore and to the east of the older female with Cameron. Ella proceeded to swim out to the child and lifted her onto her back. Ella began to struggle to keep herself and the child afloat and quickly began to tire. Ella tried to swim back to shore but the effort in keeping the young girl afloat meant she had to take the girl off her back and tread water to keep them both safe. Fearing for both of their safety, Ella yelled for assistance.

Bonnie responded with her board when she saw Ella struggling. When she reached the pair, she jumped off the board and assisting Ella in lifting the child onto the board. Ella climbed on top of the child to secure her. Bonnie then swam back to shore, pulling the board by the nose. Bonnie discarded her board and ran over to the unknown male rescuer who was giving CPR to the male casualty. Bonnie, along with the male rescuer administered CPR for around 8 minutes before two Police Officers arrived.

Whilst all this was occurring, Cameron was still trying to return to shore with the female. Ella realised that Cameron was struggling, grabbed Bonnie’s surfboard and went to his aid. As she reached him, he had managed to touch the ocean floor and between them they were able to walk the female back to shore on the board. In total, it is estimated that Cameron was fighting for around 15 minutes to effect the rescue.

The State Rescue Helicopter attended, and the patients were transported to hospital. Tragically, the male later passed away in hospital.

Group Certificate of Merit with Bronze Medallion Inset

Glenelg SLSC, SA

Shane Daw, Lisa Harvey, Steve Dumican, Todd Smith, Anthony Merchant, Jared Schenscher

On 1 January 2016, as the patrol was completing operations at Glenelg, an emergency call came over advising that a person was missing on Glenelg Beach. Glenelg members went immediately to the area attempting to assess the situation.

An 11-year-old boy had run down to the patrol advising that his friend had gotten into trouble in the water and could not be seen. Lisa and Shane put in place an immediate search with members sent a few minutes prior already scouring the water and rocky groin at that location. Police and ambulance services began to arrive and were briefed on the situation.

Lisa organised additional members as the search was expanded with members on boards, in IRBs and with rescue tubes checking the area. Shane called for the jet rescue boat as well as for the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

A child was pulled from the water and members administered oxygen and first aid. Shortly after paramedics arrived and assisted.

However, the young boy said that his friend was still missing. Shane then worked with Lisa to coordinate a broader search pattern. As Shane and Lisa met with Police, a second boy was located and was found to be okay. However, when Shane and Lisa went to confirm all people had now been located, advice was received that there was still someone missing.

The police were having difficulty in determining how many were missing due to language barriers. The police asked Shane to take over the management of the incident liaising with police and Lisa who was working with the patrol groups. Shane and Lisa worked with each other to manage the incident, still without knowing how many people were actually missing.

Shortly afterwards Anthony Merchant found another boy who was underwater. Anthony pulled him to the surface and returned to shore. Shane went over to assist and found the boy not breathing and commenced CPR. After a short time, paramedics who were not assisting with the other two boys took over to allow Shane to resume other duties.

Parents of the children had now arrived on scene and despite the best efforts of the police, they could not confirm if anyone else was missing.  3 boys had now been recovered and including the boy who had raised the alarm, this was 4 of them.

Glenelg now had over 30 people searching the beach with the Jet Rescue Boat Service and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter also in attendance, as well as a growing contingent of police and ambulance personnel.

A short time later, approximately 300 metres away, a member of the public could be seen waving to something in the water. Two surf lifesaving members, Steve Dumican and Jared Schenscher attended immediately. Steve and Jared retrieved the boy and commenced CPR with assistance from Shane who had also arrived. CPR continued for another 5-7 minutes before a paramedic could arrive.

Reviewing the situation together with the police, it was now believed that all patients had been located. Shane contacted the jet rescue boat and Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter and stood them down.

The police advised Lisa and Shane that two of the boys had passed away, the second at the hospital. However, if not for actions taken by the patrol, it could have been four boys who didn’t make it that day.

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