Gorleston lifeguard's New Zealand rescue

PUBLISHED: 09:37 02 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:10 03 July 2010

From left- lifeguards Nick Smith and Chris Jeffrey

From left- lifeguards Nick Smith and Chris Jeffrey

A GORLESTON lifeguard has been nominated for the prestigious New Zealand Rescue of the Year, after rescuing a man that had been stuck on some rocks for six and a half hours with a dislocated shoulder.

A GORLESTON lifeguard has been nominated for the prestigious New Zealand Rescue of the Year, after rescuing a man that had been stuck on some rocks for six and a half hours with a dislocated shoulder.

Lifeguards Chris Jeffery, aged 28, who patrolled Gorleston beach last year and Nick Smith, aged 19, who served on Poole beach, are currently working at beaches in the Canterbury area, near Christchurch, New Zealand as part of the RNLI's International Exchange Programme.

On January 9, at 12.30pm, Nick and Chris, while working at the Taylor's Mistake beach, were alerted by a jogger to a man stuck on the rocks with a dislocated shoulder. They decided to send out the inshore rescue boat to investigate.

However when they got there Chris opted to swim in to assess the situation and work out the safest entry and exit from the cove. This was the best method as the tide was rising and the cove would be submerged in a short time. He had to negotiate large boulders and 1.5 metre waves breaking and rebounding against the rocks to get to the patient.

The man had been stuck there since 7am in an ill-fitting wetsuit, trainers and socks. He had been trying to show his two Chinese friends where he fished and misread the weather, tide and swell information, resulting in him being smashed against the rocks and pushed into the back of the cove. His dislocated shoulder had popped back in but any movement caused him severe pain.

The lifeguards were unable to swim him out and realised they would need the Westpac rescue helicopter to assist.

Nick then returned to the base to pick up another crew man as the sea was becoming too rough to drive the inshore boat on his own, and to alert the helicopter of the situation. Both then returned to the scene and called for the helicopter.

Chris meanwhile prepared the winching area, by securing any debris and giving constant reassurance to the injured man, who despite his injuries was very embarrassed about the situation. Nick stayed just off the cove to ensure the helicopter knew the exact position.

By the time the Westpac helicopter arrived the tide had come in considerably, leaving only about five metres of dry rocks for Chris and the patient to stand on. The helicopter came into the cove, hovering just below the cliff top. With great expertise, the winch man was bouncing off the cliff face as he descended down to the rocks. They then winched up the injured man and then came back and picked up Chris.

Chris was then dropped off back at the Taylors Mistake car park and then the man was flown to hospital.

Chris said: 'During the exchange I've learned new skills on how to enter and exit rocks safely and some helicopter work thanks to the tuition of Dougal Holmes, the lifesaving manager here. I'm also very grateful to the RNLI for having the opportunity to develop myself in this way.'

RNLI Lifeguard Manager for East Anglia Darren Lewis said: 'Chris and Nick showed real skill in what they did and deserve to be nominated for Rescue of the Year by Surf Life Saving Canterbury. Their quick instincts and ability to keep cool heads meant that the man was safely rescued. Without their training, the outcome could have been very different.'

Please find a photograph attached showing left to right: RNLI lifeguards Nick Smith & Chris Jeffery


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