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SLSNZ Issues Reminder For Public To Swim Between The Flags After Multiple Auckland Anniversary Weekend Rescues

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) has once again highlighted the importance of understanding the conditions and understanding your limits —and swimming between the red and yellow flags—when it comes to beach safety.

Strong currents, surging surf and strong winds on the west coast of the North Island resulted in several daring rescues during Auckland Anniversary weekend. These included a high-drama rescue at Port Waikato on Monday afternoon, an after-hours rescue at Piha, and the rescue of multiple people swimming outside of the flagged areas across the country.

The rescue of two stranded men at Port Waikato, reportedly rock fishers, in treacherous conditions saw surf lifeguards from Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service putting themselves in harm’s way. Conditions were so challenging that they were unable to successfully launch an IRB (inflatable rescue boat).

Surf lifeguards at Ruakākā, Mangawhai Heads, Ōrewa, Whangamatā, Whiritoa, Omanu, Taylor’s Mistake, and Sumner all performed rescues on people who became caught in rip currents while swimming outside of the red and yellow flags. Meanwhile, Piha’s Search and Rescue squad was activated to support an after-hours rescue on Monday evening.

SLSNZ CEO Steve Fisher has called on the public to exercise common sense, especially when conditions are challenging.

“Two of our key beach safety messages this patrol season have been to find the safest place to swim, which is always between the red and yellow flags, and to stay out if in doubt. Surf lifeguards in the Northern Region spotted multiple rock fishers on the west coast of Auckland this weekend, in conditions that were much too dangerous for it. Many were not wearing appropriate gear. They are putting themselves and our surf lifeguards in harm’s way. The two men are immensely lucky to have escaped with their lives,” he says.

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But it is not just rock fishers putting themselves in harm’s way, says Steve Fisher. In total, surf lifeguards performed 30 rescues and 42 assists nationally across Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, as well as 802 preventative actions.

“That we are seeing so many people rescued while caught in rips, swimming outside the red and yellow flags or outside of patrol hours, goes to show that people continue to overestimate their abilities. We want the public to remember that we exist to keep them safe from the many hazards that exist around our coastlines: we can’t do that if people choose to remain ignorant to our advice,” he says.

Northern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: At Ruakākā, two surf lifeguards performed tube rescues on two youths who were caught in a rip 100m south of the flagged area and returned them safely back to shore. At Mangawhai Heads, surf lifeguards launched an IRB to respond to reports of three people stuck in a rip north of the flags. All patients were returned to shore and required no further assistance.

Sunday: Nothing of note.

Monday: Auckland Anniversary proved to be immensely busy for surf lifeguards across the region. At Port Waikato, surf lifeguards from Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service raced against the tide and worsening surf conditions to rescue 2 people stuck on rocks south of Sunset Beach. Lifeguards deployed a Rescue Water Craft (RWC) jet ski and a swimmer with a rescue tube, while 3 surf lifeguards provided support from rocks. Due to challenging conditions, the surf lifeguards were unable to reach the patient, and they called on further support from Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter. The helicopter winched both patients to safety, and they were transferred to ambulance for additional medical care.

At Raglan, surf lifeguards were alerted to a member of the public who had dislocated their shoulder. They were taken to the club’s first aid room, where lifeguards administered pain relief and took vital signs while waiting for an ambulance. The patient departed the beach in the ambulance.

Surf lifeguards at Ōrewa assisted a family of 3 people who got in difficulty while swimming south of the patrolled area, they promptly responded with an IRB and rescue board to return the family safely back to shore with no further assistance required. Ōrewa surf lifeguards also activated a search for a missing 7-year-old girl, who was located after approximately 45 minutes and safely returned to her family.

Surf lifeguards at Pākiri responded to an incident involving a 17-year-old, who had a suspected medical event while surfing. Lifeguards provided first aid, and transported the patient to the local sports field where they were met by the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Hato Hone St John Ambulance. The patient left in a stable condition.

The Piha Search and Rescue squad was activated after a member of public pulled someone from the water after patrol hours. Surf lifeguards responded to provide first aid and helped extricate the patient from the beach while paramedics and the Police Eagle helicopter responded.

Northern Region Statistics:

Eastern Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Whangamatā Lifeguards rescued three patients who became stuck in rips on Saturday afternoon. All patients were safely returned to shore with no further assistance required. Further south, surf lifeguards at Whiritoa rescued 1 patient and assisted 3 others.

Meanwhile, surf lifeguards at Mt Maunganui were briefly involved in a Police-led search for a missing diver on Saturday evening. Thankfully, the diver was located safe and well on land, and the search was stood down.

Sunday: Omanu Lifeguards assisted a group of 6 swimmers who became stuck in a rip and were carried out of their depth by the current. All 6 patients were returned to shore with no further assistance was required.

Monday: Nothing of note.

Eastern Region Statistics:

Central Region patrol summary and statistics:

Saturday: Nothing of note.

Sunday: Nothing of note.

Monday: Nothing of note.

Central region statistics:

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