Members of Killcare Surf Life Saving Club have been praised for their role in helping a 63-year-old man who suffered spinal injuries, having been dumped by a wave at Killcare Beach on January 27.
The man is expected to require extended hospital care and rehabilitation, but is expected to be able to “walk out of hospital”.
Surf club president Mr Peter Bagnall said: “Just as we were sending the Nippers down to the beach on Sunday morning, word came up that the patrol was dealing with a potentially serious spinal injury after a 63-year-old man was dumped by a wave.
“With the patient reporting no feeling in his legs, the situation was not looking good.
“With the road ambulances significantly delayed, the Careflight chopper was dispatched to pick up the patient.
“Some truly impressive flying saw the helicopter landed in a pretty tight squeeze on the grassed area next to the main car park.”
Mr Bagnall said the patrol “dealt with the incident in a textbook manner”.
“It was a baptism of fire for Tristan Edema who was 15 minutes into his first ever patrol and was first on the scene.
“Spinal injuries are potentially catastrophic and require the utmost calm under incredible pressure to deal with as successfully as possible.
“Complicated by the patient’s wife being understandably distressed and hyperventilating, the patrol team did an incredible job with a complex and high stakes operation.
“The club’s honorary doctor, Dr Jane Shapiro, happened to be on the beach.
“Her help and advice were invaluable.”
Mr Bagnall said duty officer Dave Sneddon set the Rookies to work on traffic and crowd control.
“They stepped up and played an important role in ensuring a smooth and quick evacuation,” Mr Bagnall said.
“Word is that the patient has a long road of recovery and rehab ahead, but thanks in no small part to the initial care from the patrol, he will walk out of hospital.
“Both the patient and his wife wanted to thank everyone involved for the professional level of help, especially Dr Shapiro for keeping the patient’s head still for such a prolonged period.”
The victim’s daughter Ms Hayley Bajada thanked the surf club members who assisted her father and said he was recovering slowly in Royal North Shore’s Intensive Care Unit.
“It could have been such a different day for my family and I can’t thank everyone enough that we still have him.
“Kiss your loved ones today. Life can change so quickly,” Ms Bajada said.
The club also received a letter of thanks from Careflight aircrew officer Mr Kurt Pride, praising club members for their assistance.
“Please pass on our thanks to the patrol team and Rookies for all their assistance.
“They did an excellent job with crowd control and care for the patient.
“It was very much appreciated by our team.”
After the airlift, it was business as usual for patrol members who had to deal with a day full of blue bottle stings and one small head wound.
Mr Bagnall reminded swimmers to remain aware of their surroundings while in the surf.
“This incident should serve as a bit of a wake-up call.
“We tend to get a little complacent on our home beach, but the legendary Killy shore dump can be incredibly dangerous.
“Treat it with care,” he said.
Newsletter, 1 Feb 2019
Peter Bagnall, Killcare SLSC
Social media, 3 Feb 2019
Hayley Bajada, Facebook