Fremantle lifeguards recognised for role in saving swimmer’s life


James Annetts, Tia Stonehill, Ian Mitchell and Parris Laurie.
James Annetts, Tia Stonehill, Ian Mitchell and Parris Laurie.

IAN Mitchell owes his life to the fast thinking and actions of four complete strangers.

It was an ordinary, early August morning and Mr Mitchell was swimming at the Fremantle Leisure Centre when he suffered a sudden stroke in the water.

Lifeguard Tia Stonehill, who was nearing the end of her shift, said it was not long before they realised something was very wrong.

“James (Annetts) and I had been on the open shift commencing at 4.30am and I was getting to the end of my shift when Parris (Laurie) came on at 8am to start,” she said.

“I was standing outside on the far corner of the 50m pool when she came over to do a handover and it was only a minute after that that we noticed a patron hollering at us that something was wrong.

“We then realised that this was a serious emergency after observing Ian unconscious, not breathing and rather blue in the face.

“Parris and I teabag lifted him out of the water while James cleared the pools and got emergency services on the way.

“After commencing CPR we had got a lot of colour back into Ian, a lot of fluid expelled and finally him doing some breaths on his own after roughly three minutes.”

Along with help from Andrea Thackray, their actions saved Mr Mitchell’s life, a feat that was recognised at Wednesday’s 2017 Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards where the quartet was awarded a Gold Star.

Mr Annetts said it was an honour and completely unexpected to receive the recognition.

“It’s very important to recognise lifeguards’ work as our primary role is one of prevention of accidents and incidents and can largely go unnoticed by people not involved in the industry,” he said.

Mr Mitchell said he would be forever grateful to the strangers who saved his life.

“I wish to thank them for having the skills and smarts to pull an old bloke who was drowning out of the pool, to clear his airway, start CPR, call the medics and save his life,” he said.

“I want to thank John East and all the Fremantle Leisure Centre Staff for having efficient systems in place with well-trained personnel able to look after old blokes who get into strife in the pool.

“You have saved my life and I will always be grateful.”

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