Yiyang is a man in his mid-20s and it was about this time last year when he found himself in a life-threatening situation at Birubi Beach in Port Stephens, NSW.
Yiyang remembered arriving at the beach with his girlfriend and her brother at 5.30 pm. The volunteer surf lifesavers had finished patrolling for the day; however, there were still people swimming in the ocean so they too decided to head into the water.
“My girlfriend and I were playing around near the shore and her brother had walked out a little further,” Yiyang explained. “He would come over occasionally or wave at us, but then we noticed that he looked really worried.”
As Yiyang and his girlfriend headed towards the struggling man, they also found themselves being swept up in the rip current. They were powerless in the open water.
Back at the Birubi Point Surf Life Saving Club, the surf lifesavers were debriefing over the day’s events and noticed that a number of surfers were signalling for help. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the swimmers were caught in a rip current.
Patrol Captain Steve was quick to assess the situation and ordered his team to grab the rescue boards.
Angus, a 15-year-old new Bronze Medallion holder, was first on the scene: “I probably paddled out 100 metres or so to reach the brother. He was really pale in the face, and as I pulled him onto the board you could hear him gasping for air. This was my first major rescue, and it really hit me when I was out there that it was bad.”
Angus managed to place the man onto the rescue board, and while he was making the difficult journey to shore with the brother, the other surf lifesavers and surfers were battling the ocean to safely rescue the remaining two swimmers.
Once the trio were returned to the beach, the rest of the team, who had been busy preparing the first aid equipment, spent at least 30 minutes monitoring their condition until the ambulance arrived.
Yiyang’s girlfriend and her brother were rushed to hospital and it is thanks to the commitment, swift action and skill of the volunteer surf lifesavers that everyone survived.