“Lifejackets save lives” – lifeguards continue search for missing rock fisher

For Surf Life Saving Northern Region

Surf lifeguards are urging rock-fishers to wear lifejackets, after a man was reportedly swept into the sea at O’Neill’s Bay on Auckland’s west coast.

The Bethell’s Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol Emergency Callout Squad was alerted at 1.30pm yesterday (Monday 5 October) and immediately launched a search with two Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs). But despite extensive searching by the lifeguards, Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Police Eagle helicopter, the man could not be located. A second search was launched at 7am this morning by surf lifeguards and the Eagle helicopter.

Bethells Beach club captain Leonard Mead says it’s vital that rock-fishers wear lifejackets. “Lifejackets save lives, it’s as simple as that. You never know when a freak wave is going to come along and potentially sweep you into the sea.”

Mead says the lack of cellphone reception is a major barrier to alerting help in the Bethells area. “If you see someone in trouble you should always try calling 111 and ask for Police to send the surf lifeguards,” says Mead. “However, if you can’t get reception there is an emergency phone in the Bethells carpark next to the public toilets that goes directly to Surf Life Saving Northern Region’s rescue communications centre, SurfCom.”

Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Matt Williams says there have been 30 callouts for people in the water that lifeguards have been asked to attend since 1 May this year. “By comparison, there were 31 callouts in Northern Region for the whole of last year – including over the summer – and we haven’t even reached the summer months yet.

“At least 15 people have had their lives saved or received first aid from lifeguards in that time. We again urge beachgoers to abide by our 10 key safety messages, which are appended to our release.”

Safety Messages

  1. Choose a patrolled beach and swim between the flags
  2. Ask a lifeguard for advice
  3. Don't overestimate your ability
  4. Keep young children within arm’s reach at all times
  5. Never swim or surf alone
  6. Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore
  7. When fishing from rocks, always wear a lifejacket
  8. If in doubt, stay out!
  9. If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for Police
  10. Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.

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