Mullaloo surf lifesavers reminded of difference make

Matt Burley and his family at the beach before the incident.
Matt Burley recovering in hospital.
Matt Burley and his family at the beach before the incident. Matt Burley recovering in hospital.

MULLALOO surf lifesavers have been reminded of the difference they can make “to a life and an entire family”.

“Never underestimate the impact that your skills can have, whether on patrol or not,” club president Stuart Clarke said in a recent newsletter.

“This is why we do what we do.”

The message follows this thank you note from Matt Burley, who was involved in an incident at Mullaloo beach on Christmas Day that resulted in a severe neck injury.

“I just wanted to express my thanks to the Mullaloo surf lifeguards who were on Mullaloo beach, both on and off duty, on Christmas Day morning,” he wrote.

“I was with my family enjoying the Christmas Day atmosphere on another beautiful morning in WA. We were just about to pack up and return home to make a start on the Christmas food, when I decided to treat myself to one last dip.

“I was swimming back into shore, probably no more than 15 yards out, when I was picked up and dumped on my head by what can only be described as a ‘modest’ wave.

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“As I staggered out of the water, dazed and with blood pouring down my face, I thankfully walked straight into Sarah (Gregson) who very quickly grasped what was going on and immediately laid me on my back, stabilised my head and told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to move. Anywhere. Within seconds I was surrounded by three nurses, several surf lifeguards, a couple of policemen and lots of people helping to shade me so that I didn’t get burnt to a crisp.

“All of them continuing to insist that I didn’t move despite the fact that I just wanted to try and ‘walk it off’.

“Anyway, one ambulance ride, one X-ray, a CT and MRI scan later, I was diagnosed with a crack in my C3 and C4 vertebrae, with the soft tissue and ligaments between the two completely ruptured. An injury that if I hadn’t been immobilised and looked after on the beach in the way that I was, could easily have been catastrophic.

“I am under no illusions that the actions of those people on the beach that morning saved my life and it means that after I have spent my three months in a neck brace, I hopefully get to walk away with nothing more than a story to tell.

“My family and I are so grateful for everyone’s help that day and I hope I get an opportunity to thank you all in person.”