The Day I Saved A Little Boy’s Life
By SLSQ member, Ella
It was a typical end of day on patrol. It had been a hot day and the beach was packed all day with people enjoying the sun and surf. The conditions were fairly large that day – there were big waves and rips around. Normally our beach at Mooloolaba is fairly protected so it’s a great family swimming beach. But when the surf picks up, like any beach, conditions become unstable and unpredictable.
The sun was setting and we were getting ready to pack up. It was still a typical Queensland summer’s afternoon, but the wind had started to cool down and was blowing across the sand. I didn’t realise it right away, but I was about to save a small boy from drowning – my second rescue for the day. And I’m just 15 years old. It was going to be a memorable day.
Earlier that day I had done my first ever rescue as a surf lifesaver. My Patrol Captain Allan spotted some swimmers in trouble and he tasked me to go and assist. I raced to the patrol arena and grabbed a rescue tube and swam out. The surf was pounding. There was a huge dumping shore break as I headed out through the shallows. Normally in training you time your swim to miss the dumping waves, but I wasn’t even aware of it that day.
When I got to the swimmers, I realised there were three people in trouble. All were teenagers, two females and a male. I was a little daunted because they were older than me. All the thoughts of people almost drowning their rescuers that we learned in training came flooding back to me. Often when a swimmer is in trouble in the water and you go to assist them, they do anything they can to get out of the water – including climbing on top you – when they are in a panic.
I yelled out to the male closest to me, telling them I was a qualified surf lifesaver. “Do you need my help” I shouted, thinking they might not want me to assist because they might think I was too young or not strong enough to get them in. “Yes please” was their immediate and almost frantic response. That put my mind at ease – I knew it didn’t matter to them who was rescuing them. I was a surf lifesaver and I was going to get them back to shore.
I hooked up my rescue tube to one of the patients and signalled to shore that I needed assistance, and two other lifesavers came out. Together we got the three tired and panicked swimmers back to shore. It was a pretty amazing feeling.
They didn’t really have a lot to say when we got back to the beach. I think they were embarrassed that they had to be rescued. It didn’t matter because that is our job – that’s why we are on patrol.
It didn’t really sink in that I had saved a life straight away. It was only when the Patrol Captain and other lifesavers on my patrol team started congratulating me that I thought to myself ‘wow, I did a great thing today’.
I went about the rest of the patrol. People continued to swim and enjoy the warm summer day. It was getting to the time when we pulled down the flags. We started packing up other equipment while a couple of lifesavers kept watch over the few remaining swimmers. Minutes later we saw a little boy on a boogie board being swept out in a rip. Even from the beach you could see he was incredibly scared.
The surf had been increasing all afternoon, but in those few seconds it looked like the surf doubled in size. The Patrol Captain signalled for the IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) to go out and rescue the little boy, but after a few attempts, the dumping shore break was just too big for the IRB to manoeuvre quickly through.
I and another lifesaver were called to go in. We ran to the water and began duck diving through the shore break. Again it was like we were on a training exercise but the adrenaline was pumping a little more.
When I got to the little boy he was exhausted. I had no fears or concerns that he didn’t want my help unlike earlier in the day when I rescued the teenagers. It was second nature to reach out my hand and grasp him firmly. There was no second guessing if I was strong enough or well trained enough to cope with this situation. I was getting the little boy back to the shore safe and well. There would be no other alternative.
My fellow surf lifesavers in the IRB arrived just moments after I secured the little boy. We hauled him into the boat and I watched him head back to the beach, safe in the arms of the lifesavers, safely back to his parents.
That was the most amazing feeling. He put his trust me in me and together with my patrol team we were able to save his life.
When his parents came over to me, barely able to control their emotions, and said a heartfelt thank you, I felt incredibly special and proud.
On that day, in front of those parents, I was just so proud to be a surf lifesaver.
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