Prompt, effective action and teamwork by Lifeguards at Raglan has won a regional surf lifesaving award after a group of swimmers got into difficulty on January 12.

Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand selects a winning rescue from each region as well as an overall national winner for the title of BP Rescue of the Month. Raglan Surf Life Saving Club has won the Northern Region Rescue of the Month award for January.

As Surf Lifeguards Travis Slattery and Isaac Gilmour were having dinner on the deck of their surf club after a busy day patrolling, they spotted three swimmers in difficulty to the north of the club’s patrol tower.

An immediate decision was made to assist the swimmers using an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB). The boat was quickly prepped by Lifeguards Daniel Pene, Eliot Jessep and Mitchell McCabe-Shaw, while Doug Leach and Kris O’Neil prepared to crew the boat.

Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, Doug received an urgent radio call from Travis stating that two of the three swimmers had made it back to a nearby sand bank but the third swimmer was periodically submerging.

Doug and Kris proceeded out to sea through solid two meter surf in search of the swimmer. Shortly after Lifeguards launched a second IRB and gathered up additional resuscitation gear.

Lifeguards were having difficulty keeping their eyes on the patient due to the heavy surf, glare of the sun and the patient’s submersion. The other IRB was well offshore searching for the swimmer and was also having difficulty locating the patient.

The IRB was repositioned close to the patient’s last known location where Kris was able to observe him in the water briefly. They were able to grab him and pull him up from under the water. The patient was semi-conscious and not breathing. Once in the IRB, his level of consciousness quickly deteriorated.

Back on land, the patient was carried up the beach and laid on the sand. He was still unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing effectively. The Surf Lifeguard team provided oxygen therapy and airway management while they waited for the ambulance which transferred him to Waikato Hospital.

That incident brought the day’s rescue total to nine with a further 800 preventative actions performed.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand chairman Michael Bassett-Foss says the extraordinary efforts shown by all the lifeguards involved were outstanding. “Admiration of the skill and professionalism shown by those involved in the incident is testament to qualities valued by Surf Life Saving New Zealand and BP,” he says.

Nominations for the period ending February 28 will be judged on March 11.