Cockburn ARC lifeguards recognised with bravery award

Cockburn ARC lifeguards Josh Wood, Michael Pinkham, Rhiannon Keel, Sam Hendry and Peter Delaney.
Cockburn ARC lifeguards Josh Wood, Michael Pinkham, Rhiannon Keel, Sam Hendry and Peter Delaney.

WHAT started as a regular day of work for the Cockburn ARC lifeguards soon turned into one they would never forget.

Rhiannon Keel, Pete Delaney, Sam Hendry, Josh Wood, Andrew Macray and Michael Pinkham were on duty when they noticed something out of the ordinary was happening in the 50m pool.

Ms Keel, Cockburn ARC’s operations team leader, said they initially thought someone was having a seizure.

“Once in the water it became evident that the woman was experiencing a severe mental health illness and was trying to propel herself underwater and hit her head on the base of the pool,” she said.

“Sam and I entered the water to assist the rescue as the woman was resisting Andrew and Michael, meanwhile Josh prepared the pool deck with first aid gear including oxygen, blankets and a privacy screens.

“The woman re-submerged herself multiple times, hitting her head violently against the pool floor and edge, each time she surfaced saying to leave her alone and that she wanted to die.

“Once she was finally on the pool edge, the team began administering oxygen and completing a secondary check for other injuries.

“Other staff stepped in to look after the woman’s daughter, giving her an ice cream and comforting her in the Aquatic Office while they waited, then the woman was handed to the care of emergency services.”

For their actions, the group were recognised with a 2018 Royal Life Saving Bravery Award on Wednesday.

Ms Keel said it was important the team was there to help the woman.

“They performed an unusual delivery of care in what was very trying circumstances,” she said.

“Mental health is a very serious social issue, and our young staff handled the situation incredibly maturely and sensitively, protecting the patient even when that meant from herself.

“It is an honour to be recognised by Royal Life Saving Society with a bravery award.

“The team performed incredibly well in the face of a very confronting and complicated rescue and I’m so very proud of what we accomplished on the day, and they should be too.”

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 for help in a crisis.