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Successful Resuscitation At Auckland’s Karekare Beach Rounds Out Manic Weekend For Surf Life Saving’s Northern Beaches

A person has been airlifted to hospital this evening after being resuscitated by off-duty lifeguards at Karekare Beach on Auckland’s west coast.

Surf Life Saving’s operations centre SurfCom was alerted to two people struggling in the water just before 6pm. The lifeguards responded immediately in an IRB, recovering both patients and returning them to shore.

One patient was in a moderate condition while the other was critical, unconscious and not breathing. CPR was performed by the lifeguards until they had successfully revived the patient. The lifeguards then performed first-aid until St John Ambulance and Westpac Rescue arrived on scene.

The successful resuscitation caps off a manic weekend for Surf Life Saving’s beaches in Northland, Auckland and Waikato where warm weather and unseasonably warm sea temperatures drew thousands to the coastline.

Northern Region Lifesaving Operations Manager James Lea says the weekend saw higher incident numbers than you’d see in peak summer.

“In total our lifeguards did 52 rescues, assisted people six to safety, performed four major first-aids and searched for eight people – that’s really unusual for a weekend in November,” he says.

“It was a combination of thousands of people being at the beach because of the hot weather, along with decent swells, warm water temperatures and outgoing tides for most of the day. This leads to some really strong rip currents popping up in places like Auckland’s West Coast and in Raglan.”

Lea says that several of the incidents over the weekend occurred as lifeguards were packing up for the evening, forcing them to stay open longer.

“We’re so incredibly grateful to our volunteers for putting in that extra mahi to keep people safe,” he says.

Most of those who got into trouble over the weekend were caught out by flash rips. Where the outgoing tide caused holes in the sea-floor to become more prominent causing sudden currents that swept people out of their depth.

“We saw this a number of times over the weekend, most notably at Muriwai and Raglan where groups of 13-14 people were swept out all at once due to these flash rips.”

“Luckily for them, lifeguards were still on duty and able to rescue them all. However, if anyone does get stuck in a rip they need to remember to relax, raise their hand and ride the rip – it’s best to float on back and not swim against the current in order to preserve your energy.”

“We have 18 Search and Rescue squads from Ahipara to Raglan that are available 24/7 to save those in trouble in the water. Just call 111 and ask for Police, they have a direct line to activate our lifeguards.”

Incident details follow.


A whopping 46 rescues were performed today by lifeguards around the Northern Region. Muriwai completed 19 rescues, 13 of these were in one mass rescue after a couple of rips suddenly opened up while they had several hundred swimmers. A further six swimmers were rescued throughout the day as the conditions continued to be unpredictable. Piha performed six rescues, but no information was available because lifeguards were involved in an ongoing incident at the end of patrol. A Karekare lifeguard rescued two swimmers shortly after patrol had finished, after she noticed them stuck in a rip. With the help of a nearby surfer the lifeguard was able to return both swimmers safely back to shore.

Raglan clocked the busiest day of all with 19 rescues and a further 3 assists. Raglan had an outgoing tide all day which increased the level of danger at their beach. Three swimmers were assisted in the morning after the flags had been moved multiple times because of changing conditions. The swimmers were unable to make their way back to shore, and had to be aided them back to shore by lifeguards. The lifeguards then performed a mass rescue of five patients, all of whom had been caught in the unpredictable rips and a channel running parallel to a sand bar. A further 14 patients were rescued in a second mass rescue, which involved an IRB and two lifeguards with tubes continually picking patients up and dropping them back to the shore before returning out to pick up more.

Bethells started their day with a major first-aid before patrols began: a girl had injured her ankle in the dunes near Lake Wainamu, and lifeguards assisted the girl back to the surf club where she was met by an ambulance who transported her from the beach to receive further treatment. United North Piha ended their day with a major first-aid after a male in his early 20s suffered what is believed to have been a severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction. An ambulance was called and lifeguards handed the patient over to the paramedics who transferred him to hospital.

At the end of the day, Muriwai had a call for a further six possible rescues, two swimmers and four surfers all in trouble in the water. As lifeguards had just packed up patrol they were quick to respond, and thankfully all patients were able to safely return themselves to shore with no assistance from lifeguards.


Karekare had three rescues just after they had put the flags away. Three people got swept out in a rip but were safely returned to shore. Following the close of patrol, local lifeguards were alerted to two swimmers in difficulty; lifeguards responded rapidly with an IRB and alerted SurfCom to activate helicopter and ambulance. Both patients were retrieved and returned to shore promptly with one patient being successfully resuscitated by lifeguards and flown to Auckland hospital via Westpac rescue helicopter. The second patient was returned to shore in a stable condition.

Kariaotahi also had a rescue earlier in the morning of a surfer who was taken out of their depth and in distress.

Another search was performed by Mairangi Bay for a missing six-year-old at Browns Bay. Her mother had lost sight of her while she was boogie-boarding and alerted police. Mairangi Bay assisted land and air police units with the search. The young girl was found by police on the south end of the beach safely on land.

An acknowledgement to the guards at Baylys Beach in Northland, who were notified by a member of public about a deceased patient washed up on the beach. Fire and ambulance had already been contacted with police also on their way so our lifeguards had minimal involvement.

© Scoop Media

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