Bravery Awards - Fremantle Leisure Centre Lifeguards

6 November 2018

The Royals recently commended over 40 brave life savers at the 2018 Bravery Awards, three of which were Fremantle Pool Lifeguards, James Annetts, Pia Rodgers and Molly Higgins, who were awarded a Gold Star Bravery Award each for their efforts in rescuing an elderly man in distress. This is their story.

At 7.30am on a cold Monday morning in July this year things quickly moved from normal to a code blue medical emergency at Fremantle Leisure Centre! Lifeguard Pia noticed a 72-year-old man, Ian Mitchell, unconscious in the 50m pool. She responded quickly, getting Ian to the side of the pool where she was assisted by another lifeguard, Molly, and Duty Manager, James. The trio commenced CPR and set up the oxygen equipment and defibrillator.

During the second cycle of CPR Ian began to show signs of life. He began breathing and his eyes start flickering. Oxygen therapy was administered, and the lifeguards closely monitored Ian while waiting for paramedics.

Emergency services arrived, and the paramedics applied monitoring equipment. The lifeguards and paramedics then worked together on Ian for about 15 minutes on pool deck, before he was transported to St John of God Hospital.

Duty Manager, James, remarked, ‘Your instinct overtakes, you don’t have time to overthink in a situation like that. Your emergency services instincts teamed with what we trained for help save lives, it’s all part of being a lifeguard’
The lifeguard trio did an amazing job!

Once James assessed the situation and was comfortable with Pia and Molly doing CPR, he began clearing the pools and alerted reception to call for an ambulance. Customer Service Officer – Christine - quickly locked down the reception area and called 000.

‘Everyone on the team did their best under pressure and implemented their emergency lifesaving training. Because of the brilliant training and acting calmly, the team executed the necessary lifesaving techniques with exceptional textbook efficiency.’

Thankfully, due to quick thinking and the team’s use of the skills they learned through their lifeguard training, Ian made a full recovery.

‘Our role is one of prevention and being proactive in identifying risks to limit incidents such as this.’

There is a saying “lightning never strikes twice”, but we’re not so sure about that! Our casualty in this situation, Ian Mitchell, is an extremely lucky man. On the 25th August 2017 Ian had a similar incident in the same pool and was resuscitated by lifeguards – these lifeguards received a Bravery Award last year, and James Annetts was involved in both rescues!

James also adds, ‘My advice to others in a similar situation would be: remain calm, try not to rush, take a few seconds to look at situation; lifesaving training helps with assessing the situation and acting on it.’

The Royals are very grateful that in both incidents the outcome was successful and congratulate the team on amazing lifesaving efforts and well-deserved awards.

If you would like to nominate someone for next year’s Bravery Awards, please click on the following link.

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