North Bondi SLSC (SLS-Australia) has won their second National and NSW Rescue of the Month award in as many seasons after successfully rescuing a group of ocean swimmers in April.
On Saturday 23 April at 9:15am, North Bondi surf lifesavers rescued multiple swimmers from the permanent rip at the northern end of Bondi Beach, which was closed due to hazardous conditions.
“It was a pretty miserable day, the beach was closed so we had no flags up and we weren’t really expecting much to happen to be honest. I briefed the patrol and we decided to have a skeleton of lifesavers on the beach,” said Patrol Captain Karen Sheppard.
A group of 15 ocean swimmers were advised not to enter the water by members of Patrol 14 from North Bondi SLSC as the beach was closed due to rough conditions with 2-3 metre swell. Despite the warning, they entered the water. Unfortunately, the swimmers found themselves in trouble 50 metres offshore and a number of them were washed against the rocks.
“It was a pretty miserable day, the beach was closed so we had no flags up, so we weren’t really expecting much to happen to be honest. I briefed the patrol and we decided to have a skeleton of lifesavers on the beach,” Karen Sheppard said.
“As I was briefing the patrol, we could see a group of ocean swimmers going down towards the water’s edge at North Bondi where the rip was running.”
Immediately, Patrol Captains Simon King and Karen Sheppard launched a rescue effort while Gary Pendergast headed out and assisted one of the swimmers who had been washed onto rocks. As the conditions were very rough Patrick Kerr and Matthew Brown (rescue board), David Tinworth and Jake Hilton (IRB), John Rohl and Lisa Croudace (rescue tube) all headed out to provide support under the direction of Simon and Karen.
Once on scene, Patrick supported two swimmers on his board until Matthew arrived and was able to transfer one of the exhausted swimmers onto his board and paddle back to shore. Due to the conditions, Patrick transferred the remaining swimmer into the IRB to be taken back to shore by Dave and Jake.
Meanwhile, Lisa directed the remaining struggling swimmers back to shore with one of the swimmers attempting to swim against the rip. Lisa offered the rescue tube but the swimmer refused until John arrived with fins a few minutes later. John helped the swimmer negotiate their way through the large swell safely to shore.
By this time all 15 swimmers had been returned to shore and were administered first aid. Several swimmers suffered serious injury from being washed against the rocks.
“It’s very unexpected to receive NSW Rescue of the Month award but we’re extremely grateful. We were just doing what we do as surf lifesavers on the day,” Karen Sheppard added.
“We’ve had a couple of mass rescues this season so on this occasion, we all knew what to do and we showed great teamwork in difficult conditions.”
The SLSA and SLSNSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at National and State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners have the chance to win the Australian Rescue of the Month and become finalists for the SLSNSW Rescue of the Year which is presented at the annual Awards of Excellence.
Patrol 14 from North Bondi SLSC will be presented with their National Rescue of the Month medallion and citation at the official re-opening of Surf Life Saving Australia Bondi office in June.