• ROM Branch Winner December 2021 – Elouera SLSC

    Jan 24, 2022 By Surf Live Saving Admin

    Branch received a number of outstanding rescue of the month nominations for the month of December.  To Cronulla, Elouera, South Maroubra and Surf Rescue 30, congratulations to your members who certainly performed note worthy rescues during the busy month of December 2021.

    The Branch can only submit one nomination to State each month as our Branch Winner and for December this has been awarded to Elouera SLSC for rescue conducted on 25/12/2021 by member Andrew Sharp and Matthew and Mark Anders (North Cronulla SLSC members). Congratulations to all involved.

    Andrew Sharp, (Elouera SLSC), Matthew Anders (North Cronulla SLSC) and Mark Anders (North Cronulla SLSC), and Caitlin Anders (non member), were involved in a tricky rescue on Christmas day. They had decided to have an afternoon swim in the water on a warm Christmas day and entered the water at the northern end of Maroubra beach. At this particular beach location, there were no patrolling members as the patrol flags were set up about 300m south of their location. As they were all competent swimmers, we had no hesitations about swimming in this area. There was, however, about 2-3ft of northeast swell, and it did appear to pick up in the short time the party took to get changed and enter the water. Matthew Anders and Andrew Sharp made their way out the back of the break to bodysurf a few waves. After about 10 minutes of being in the water, they heard a scream northeast from their location. Initially, it caught them both by surprise, and they took a few seconds to work out both its location and if it was a serious call for help. Once visually locating two individuals present in a rip that appears to be a permanent rip around the rock line, both Matthew Anders and Andrew Sharp swam as quickly as possible to their location. When Andrew arrived at the two swimmers (male and female couple), they were visibly panicked and appeared to be very fatigued. Another bystander had also heard their screams and was there helping to keep the two swimmers afloat. Andrew Sharp attempted to calm the two swimmers down. This was made difficult, however, by a language barrier. Matthew Anders had arrived by this stage, and proceeded to look after the male while Andrew attempted to help take the female swimmer back to shore. The male individual then began to go under and appeared to take on some water, and it was due to the quick thinking of Matthew Anders and another bystander in the water that they were able to keep him afloat. At this stage, Mark Anders arrived at the rescue scene and continued to keep the male individual afloat. Given that the male individual now had more assistance, Andrew Sharp decided to help take the individual female back to shore. Swimming back to the shore required swimming directly against the rip with a fatigued individual who was not a competent swimmer. This wasn’t easy and took some 10-15 minutes. Andrew Sharp was fortunate to have a bystander also providing some assistance in getting back to shore. Once getting closer to shore, Caitlin Anders also helped ensure that the female made it safely to the beach. As Andrew Sharp and others were making their way in with the distressed swimmer, a gentleman on a bodyboard approached Andrew, asking if he needed to use the board. Given Andrew knew he was a stronger swimmer, Andrew suggested the gentleman take the bodyboard to the male patient who was still in trouble. This proved to be a good decision as the use of the bodyboard enabled the rescue team to help get the male back to shore, given he was extremely fatigued and distressed. He, too, was a poor swimmer. Once both the male and female were placed on the beach, they were both in shock and fatigued but safe. Andrew had a conversation with them after the rescue, and the couple, who are thought to be South American, said that they were not aware that a rip could take them so quickly away from the beach/rocks and that they genuinely feared for their wellbeing. It was fortuitous that Andrew Sharp, Matthew Anders, Mark Anders, as experienced lifesavers, and Caitlin Anders, who has previous background as a competitive swimmer, were at the beach this particular day. Andrew Sharp is someone who has been involved in surf lifesaving now for over 20 years and considers that given the couple’s lack of swimming ability, and the strong rip, there would have been grave concerns for their safety had the party not been present. Andrew expresses thanks also to the other bystanders who assisted in this rescue.
    This was a rescue conducted outside of the patrolled area by off duty lifesavers. The urgency of the situation meant they had to improvise with rescue equipment (body board) and members of the public. They demonstrated great skills in recognising that the sounds initially heard were not normal, and that the likely location of indicated someone could be experiencing difficulty in the surf. Effective communication displayed on approaching and reassuring the patients. Decision making and re-assessment as the rescue progressed showed great situational awareness to ensure additional resources were deployed to the patient with the greatest need. Finally high-level fitness and skill were displayed to complete the rescue.