With the conclusion the Australian Boardriders Battle Final, the site pack-down commenced, and competitor celebrations were in session on the shores of Newcastle City Beach. Not far from the event site, four friends took to the ocean to cool off from the extreme summer heat, before being swept off the sandbank and placed in danger.
The incident occurred just after 6pm, which meant Lifesavers and Lifeguards were not on duty and the beach was unpatrolled. Luckily, Avoca Boardrider local and father of two daughters that were competing earlier that day, Nigel Tebb, spotted the distressed swimmers and responded immediately.
Nigel grabbed his daughter’s small but useful surfboards to use as floating devices and ran towards the southern end of the beach and appealed to another patron to assist and handed him one of his daughter’s surfboards. Both proceeded to paddle out into the ocean in the direction of the four struggling swimmers.
The patron assisting Nigel reached the first swimmer and returned them safely to shore whilst Nigel paddled towards the three remaining victims. One of the three was able to return to the sandbank and then head safely back to shore unassisted, however, the remaining two were in danger. Particularly a young, 19-year-old female who had taken in a lot of water.
Nigel quickly reached the two victims and turned his daughter’s 5’1ft shortboard horizontally to the beach and used a sideways kicking technique specifically taught in Surfing NSW’s Surfers Rescue 24/7 course to safely complete the rescue.
Upon returning to shore, the young female became unconscious and Nigel Tebb called upon Surfing NSW event staff who had just packed up the event site to assist. Ethan Rapper, Michael Crisp and Rohan Fell responded immediately. Mr Rapper began vetting the patient, whilst Mr Crisp retrieved a medical oxygen tank and Rohan Fell called the ambulance and awaited its arrival. By the time the ambulance arrived, the victim had gone through two medical oxygen tanks.
Mr Crisp, who is also a Surfers Rescue presenter for the Far North Coast region of NSW reflected on the situation.
“If it wasn’t for Nigel’s quick thinking, I would hate to say it, but I think the young swimmers could have drowned. Due to Nigel’s quick response and the assistance of everyone involved, we were able to do what we could to assist the victim.” Said Mr Crisp.
Nigel Tebb had recently attended a Surfers Rescue 24/7 course and has also been a professional lifeguard in his hometown. Surfers Rescue 24/7 is a government-funded and supported FREE surfboard rescue and accredited CPR course for recreational surfers and boardrider clubs residing in NSW.
The course teaches surfers crucial board techniques that can be used to assist in an emergency situation and help save a life. These simple yet proven rescue techniques have been designed and endorsed by the state’s most reputable emergency services and the world’s most recognisable surfers including World Champions Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Mark Richards.
Although Professional Lifeguards and Volunteer Surf Life Savers cover and patrol some of our busiest beaches, surfers are in the water 365 days a year from dawn until dusk and are often the first to assist in emergencies. Whilst 96% of all NSW Beaches are unpatrolled, surfers are by far our biggest asset when saving lives.
Surfers Rescue 24/7 urge all recreational surfers of any skill level to register and complete a free Surfers Rescue 24/7 course to learn the techniques that can help save a life, just like the young female at Newcastle Beach.
The young female from Sunday 5th February is said to be doing well and thanks all that were involved in her rescue.