Fremantle: leisure centre lifeguards honoured for rescue

James Annetts, Ian Mitchel, Pia Rodgers and Molly Higgins.
James Annetts, Ian Mitchel, Pia Rodgers and Molly Higgins.

FOR the lifeguards at Fremantle Leisure Centre it was an ordinary day at work but for Ian Mitchel a swim at the pool nearly cost him his life.

The 72-year-old was swimming his usual laps in the pool when he had a seizure.

The next thing he remembered was waking up in the ambulance on the way to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Three lifeguards involved in his rescue were awarded a Royal Life Saving Bravery Award on Wednesday October 3.

One of the lifeguards involved in the rescue, Pia Rodgers, said she was patrolling the pool when she saw Mr Mitchel holding onto the lane rope and slowly starting to submerge.

“With the aid of bystanders we pull him out onto the concourse,” she said.

“When a second lifeguard came we put oxygen and defib on him.

“After the first round of compressions he started breathing again but he wasn’t in a good way.

“He stopped breathing again, so we did another round of compression and he started breathing again looking much better.”

The Fremantle local said it was a privilege to receive the award.

“We were just doing our job,” she said.

“We have a really great team environment and we are really supportive of each other, it made a massive difference in the rescue.”

A second lifeguard who assisted in the rescue, Molly Higgins, said the rescue had changed her perspective on things.

“To be able to see Ian alive and well is something I will never forget,” she said.

“It’s been quite a turning point in how I view life.

“I felt very prepared in the moment, it was just a normal shift – we went into work mode and ‘let’s get it done’.”