Team effort from Coastguard in rescue of swimmers
On the evening of Sunday 11 December, Coastguard Operations Manager Ray Burge was driving past Waiomanu Bay, east of Maraetai Beach, with his family when he noticed a man in the water frantically waving his arms.
Ray, off duty, stopped his car and ran down to the beach, where he was met by three small children who told him that the man in the water, to whom they were related, needed help. Ray made a quick call to the Coastguard Operations Centre to advise them of the situation, before swimming out to the man who had drifted approx 200m out to sea, and was struggling.
After bringing the man ashore and summoning an ambulance, Ray’s family found out from the children their mother was also in the water, and that the man – her partner – had tried swimming out to her. She couldn’t be immediately spotted from the beach, so the alarm was raised with the Coastguard Operations Centre.
Volunteers from Coastguard Maraetai responded quickly, launching Coastguard rescue vessel Maraetai Rescue One in under 6 minutes. After a short search, the team located the woman approximately 400 metres off shore, and pulled her from the rough water – cold and tired, but responsive.
Both patients were taken to the Maraetai Boat Club where they were assessed by medically-trained Coastguard volunteers, and transferred to the care of St John paramedics and Police.
We’re pleased to say that, due to the rapid actions of Ray and the Coastguard volunteers aboard Maraetai Rescue One and in the Operations Centre, that the outcome of their swim was a happy one and that the whole family is safe. The man, who required urgent hospitalisation, was very lucky to have been spotted at all by Ray, who is highly experienced in search-and-rescue and is a strong swimmer, and who was able to immediately help and summon further assistance from Coastguard.
It’s a timely reminder to be aware of your own abilities in the water, and to know that weather conditions can change rapidly and result in swimmers and boaties alike getting into difficulty. The use of buoyancy aids or lifejackets when going significant distance offshore is also recommended.