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bp Rescue Of The Month – 2023/2024 February Winners

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) would like to congratulate the winners of the 2023/2024 February bp Rescue of the Month.

The monthly award celebrates the commitment and expertise displayed by surf lifeguards, showcasing their skills and training in searches, rescues, and first-aids.

Throughout February, surf lifeguards around the country responded to a range of incidents, however there were three that stood out. These incidents showed the incredible range of skills possessed by surf lifeguards and their critical role in ensuring people’s safety.

Steve Fisher, SLSNZ CEO, said, “Congratulations to this month’s winners. All the surf lifeguards and members involved displayed incredible skill and quick thinking to ensure those in trouble were able to be brought back to shore safely and cared for appropriately.

“This month, all the rescues happened outside of patrol hours and while surf lifeguards were off-duty. This is becoming a common theme around the country and proves there is no off-switch for surf lifeguards.

“It’s clear that if surf lifeguards or members were not there at the time of these incidents, the outcomes would have been very different, and we can’t express how proud we are of their brave responses. We’d also like to pass on our sympathies to patients who are still recovering from their injuries. The man rescued by Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service is still in hospital after suffering a serious spinal injury, and our thoughts are with him, his whānau, and friends during this difficult time.”

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The winner of each region will be awarded a $250 bp gift card. These monthly winners will also be finalists for the prestigious Rescue of the Year, which is announced at the annual SLSNZ Awards of Excellence.

Haley Mahoney, bp Head of Country, said, “Well done to the February winners of bp’s Rescue of the Month. Their bravery and skill were commendable, as they went above and beyond to ensure the safety of beachgoers. We know it requires a substantial effort to equip surf lifeguards with the necessary skills and resources for their crucial role, many of them giving up their own time, which is why bp takes great pride in supporting their efforts.”

Southern Region bp Rescue of the Month

Winner: St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club

Matt Lloyd, Cory Westhead, Mark McDowall, Stu Loudon, Kim Lloyd, Karl Turner

On 15 February, at around 6pm, St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) surf lifeguard Mark McDowall spotted four people in distress in the water at Dunedin’s St Kilda Beach.

He quickly used hand signals to alert Matt Lloyd and Cory Westhead, who were out surfing, to the group struggling to remain above the water.

The pair paddled over to help keep them afloat with their surfboards. Meanwhile, Mark carried out a dynamic risk assessment. After assessing the skill and abilities of the surf lifeguards, as well as they fact he had been watching the surf for some time and had a good understanding of the evening’s conditions, he deemed it safe to complete a rescue board and an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) rescue.

While Mark retrieved a rescue board, he directed other surf lifeguards to assemble and launch an IRB. He then paddled out to the four people and brought the two most exhausted patients back to shore. After leaving them in the care of other off-duty surf lifeguards, he returned to help keep the remaining two patients afloat with the rescue board.

Stu Loudon and Kim Lloyd then arrived in an IRB and took the two remaining patients back to shore. The four were then assessed by surf lifeguards and left in a stable condition.

The surf lifeguards involved in the incident carried out a debrief and were reminded by Kim, who is a Peer Supporter, of the support available following this critical incident.

Central Region bp Rescue of the Month

Winner: Lyall Bay Surf Life Saving Club

Kit Jones

On 2 February, at 11:30am, under overcast skies and strong northerly winds, a kayaker in Lyall Bay, Wellington found themselves in trouble approximately 1.5 kilometres offshore.

Lyall Bay Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) surf lifeguard Kit Jones was off duty, fixing gear, when he sprang into action, jumping into the water with a rescue board.

With years of training under his belt, he skilfully navigated the tricky conditions, using all his energy and determination to get to the patient quickly.

After picking up the patient on his board, Kit started the journey back to shore, battling against the relentless wind and surf. His expertise ensured the safe return of both himself and the rescued kayaker.

The Lyall Bay SLSC emphasised that without Kit, the outcome could have been far more dire, which serves as a reminder of the invaluable service provided by surf lifeguards even when they’re not on duty.

Northern Region bp Rescue of the Month

Winner: Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service (VLS)

On 18 February, at 9:40am a person was surfing on the sandbar at Mangawhai Heads when he was knocked unconscious after hitting sand.

Two surfers rushed to his aid and quickly established that he had suffered a serious spinal injury. They placed him on a surfboard while another group of surfers came to assist. The man was then taken to the shallow part of the channel where off-duty surf lifeguards, Junior Surf coaches, and Junior Surf parents helped to transport him to shore. He was then taken to the hospital, where he remains in the Intensive Care Unit with spinal and head injuries.

Mangawhai Heads VLS said the outcome would have been much worse if it had not been for the surfers and club members. The patient was in a serious condition and needed the highest level of care. He had to be stabilised in the water, transferred from a surfboard to a spinal board, and then transported safely into an inflatable rescue boat. Advanced first aid skills had to be used, with full emergency care implemented by all 11 surf lifeguards involved.

The incident also occurred before patrol started, but Junior Surf was underway, which meant coaches and parents had to respond quickly. Thankfully, they were well trained and experienced, in part thanks to a push by Mangawhai Heads VLS five years ago to get Junior Surf parents to become surf lifeguards.

Mangawhai Heads VLS said it’s incredibly proud of the way everybody responded to this incident as they tried to ensure the best possible outcome.

© Scoop Media

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