VenuesWest lifeguards receive Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards for response to emergency

Erica Irvine (26), Samuel Stacy (21) and Sophie Pugsley (20). Josh Zekulich not pictured. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Erica Irvine (26), Samuel Stacy (21) and Sophie Pugsley (20). Josh Zekulich not pictured. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

FOUR lifeguards from Mt Claremont received gold crosses for their act of bravery in an emergency at the Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards 2016 on Wednesday.

In June, a VenuesWest contract worker fell through the roof at HBF Stadium and landed in the lower concourse of the reception.

Sam Stacy, Erica Irvine, Sophie Pugsley and Josh Zekulich acted quickly and administered first aid, called for the ambulance and created privacy until the paramedics arrived and took the man to hospital.

However, the man later passed away.

Mr Stacy said it was a tragic event but it was an honour to be recognised for the team’s efforts.

“The experience gave me further confidence in my abilities as a lifeguard when faced with pressure situations and unpredictable circumstances,” he said.

“It reinforced how important it is to be knowledgeable in my first aid training.

“Advice I would give to anyone facing an unfortunate emergency situation would be to remain calm, have confidence in your own knowledge and experience and act promptly once you have assessed the situation.”

Ms Irvine said she appreciated working alongside a dedicated and courageous team but she endeavoured to be the best possible lifeguard every day.

“Many situations during my experience have inspired me to ensure not only myself but our entire lifeguard team is prepared for the call of duty when it arises,” she said.

Mr Zekulich said the experience inspired him to become a better lifesaver.

“It highlighted to me the extent of things we may have to deal with at the pool and inspired me to go outside my comfort zone in learning to create a much more well-rounded knowledge of emergency procedures and processes at the pool,” he said.

VenuesWest chief executive David Etherton said while it was a tragic situation, he was proud of the way the lifeguards demonstrated composure and worked with other staff and St John Ambulance paramedics.

“As the award citation notes, they responded with compassion and a high level of skill and did everything possible to save the man’s life in extremely challenging circumstances,” he said.

Royal Life Saving Society WA chief executive Peter Leaversuch said each recipient displayed courage, empathy and initiative during emergencies and sometimes at risk to themselves.

“The bravery and commitment of these individuals in saving lives is an excellent example to all Western Australians and deserves our highest recognition,” he said.

“It sends the strongest message possible about the importance of obtaining lifesaving skills.”