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Taylors Mistake mass rescue wins national lifesaving award

Taylors Mistake mass rescue wins national lifesaving award

The mass rescue of a group of swimmers at Taylors Mistake in Christchurch has won a national surf lifesaving award.

Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand invites clubs to submit their rescues to be judged for the title of BP Rescue of the Month which aim to recognise operational excellence by Surf Lifeguards around the country.

Taylor’s Mistake has won the BP Rescue of the Month award for January with Waiakane and Bethells Beach coming second and third respectively.

On Thursday January 18, Taylors Mistake Beach was heavily populated with people on holiday. The temperature was hot and the surf was large with lots of rips and currents moving through.

The beach was manned by four paid Regional Lifeguards and there were various off-duty lifeguards, rookies and their parents on the beach. Lifeguards had already moved the flags numerous times due to the conditions and the number of swimmers in the water.

As the tide turned shortly after 1pm, a flash rip was created taking two groups of swimmers on the western side of the flags out beyond their depth. Four people were in immediate danger with another group struggling to return to shallow water. Overall, it appeared that around 12-17 swimmers were in need of assistance.

A lone swimmer, doing water yoga at the same time, had also drifted 400 metres offshore requiring board rescue and Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) pickup.

All four Regional Lifeguards entered the water as the Patrol Captain dropped the flags and closed the swimming area while the off-duty lifeguards provided asssitance. Two boards, 11 rescue tubes and an IRB were in the water at that time. IRB pickups were challenging due to the wave height, number of persons in the water and the inability of some of the swimmers to get into the IRB due to panic and exhaustion.

Ultimately, all of the swimmers were returned to shore with two requiring intervention from the First Response and ambulance along with further monitoring for secondary drowning.

Due to the extent of the rescue, the off-duty lifeguards manned the beach and flags so that the Regional Lifeguards could regroup and complete the paperwork and a full debrief.

Members of the public applauded the rescue, commented on the efficiency of the lifeguards’ intervention and also paid a great deal more attention to the afternoon’s designated swimming area.

If it wasn’t for the quick response and teamwork from the club members on site that day, it is likely there could have been multiple drownings.

BP NZ Managing Director Debi Boffa says the quick response and skills demonstrated by the lifeguards involved was outstanding. “Since 1968 we have been proud to stand behind this amazing organisation who help save the lives of thousands of people every year as well as educate people about how to stay safe on our beaches,” she says.

For their efforts, Taylors Mistake Surf Life Saving Club will receive a $500 BP gift voucher to help with the financial costs of keeping their community safe in the water.

Waikanae and Bethells Beach will receive $300 and $200 BP gift cards as second and third place winners.

For more information about BP Rescue of the Month please visit http://www.surflifesaving.org.nz/lifeguarding/bp-rescue-of-the-month/bp-rescue-of-the-month/


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