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Lifeguard training turns into rock fishing rescue

Lifeguard training turns into rock fishing rescue

Off-duty lifeguards from United North Piha Lifeguard Service successfully rescued a fisherman swept off the rocks at Piha around 10am this morning (Sunday 8 December).

The lifeguards were taking part in Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) training when they received an urgent call-out for a rock fisherman swept off “Fisherman’s Rock” which is south of Piha Beach. During the incident, the rock fisherman’s fishing partner deployed an angel ring (lifebuoy or life ring) to assist the troubled patient before using a radio to communicate with a family member to alert emergency services.

Two IRB’s were swiftly launched in response to the call and the fisherman was saved by lifeguards who drove the patient to shore for further assessment. Director of Lifesaving at United North Piha Victoria Mulrennan was involved in the rescue and says that it was a case of lifeguards being at the right place at the right time, and the fisherman having the right water safety gear.

“As soon as we were alerted to the incident we were ready to respond with trained lifeguards and the right gear,” she says. “Rescues along the rocks can be tricky and lifeguards were managing a particularly large surf. Thankfully, the rock fishers also did all the right things, both the angel ring and lifejacket made them easier to spot.”

Surf Life Saving Northern Region Lifesaving Manager Ari Peach says that both floatation devices saved the rock fisherman’s life.

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“We continue to urge all rock fishers to use a life jacket at all times. Both the life jacket and angel ring undoubtedly saved a life by keeping the rock fisher afloat prior to being rescued,” he says. “While lifeguards are well trained and prepared for incident responses, beach-goers and fishers have a responsibility to be prepared. This fisherman followed all our safety advice and thankfully avoided tragedy. Without a lifejacket this rescue could’ve ended much differently.”

Auckland Council Senior Ranger Stuart Leighton says that the angel rings were installed in 2009 as part of the West Coast Rock Fishing Project, a joint agency campaign between Surf Life Saving Northern Region, Drowning Prevention Auckland and Auckland Council.

“The angel rings are another important “layer of protection” in the water that have been placed in high-use high-risk rock fishing spots along the West Coast,” he says. “While they are an important safety measure, lifejackets are still vital for members of the public taking part in recreational rock fishing.”


SLSNR Rock Fishing Safety Messages

• Check the conditions
• Always wear a lifejacket
• Never fish alone and always let someone know when you will be returning home
• Always wear the correct equipment (Light clothing and sturdy footwear is essential)
• Beware of waves and swells (Never turn your back to the surf and keep an eye on the tide so you don’t get caught)
• If you see someone in trouble call 111 and ask for Police.

DPA Rock Fishing Safety Messages

Check the conditions
This includes swell, weather and tide forecasts as well as advice on safety signs.
Wear a lifejacket and correct clothing
Light clothing, sturdy footwear such as sneakers and a lifejacket are essential.
Beware of waves and swells
Always face the sea, never turn your back. Have a clear escape path to safe ground and don’t get caught by an incoming tide or large swell.

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