Quick-thinking lifeguards rewarded

8 January 2018

Four quick-thinking lifeguards were rewarded for their lifesaving skills with Gold Star Bravery Awards from Royal Life Saving WA.

James Annetts, Parris Laurie, Andrea Thackray and Tia Stonehill rescued a 71-year-old man who was found unconscious in the 50m pool at Fremantle Leisure Centre.

“When we were aware that Ian was suffering a stroke we all instinctively went into LG 1,2,3 mode,” James recalls. “Communication was to the forefront of our response; there was lots of chatter between us and looking back after the event it was almost textbook.”

The four lifeguards quickly assessed Ian’s signs of life: he was not responsive and was foaming around airway. After unsuccessful attempts to clear the airway, CPR was commenced with oxygen and defibrillator pads applied. After doing the initial assessment the defibrillator advised that no shock was required and the lifeguards continued CPR.

While the lifeguard team was working on Ian, all of the pools were evacuated and reception area closed, and an ambulance was called.

Emergency services arrived and paramedics applied their pads and monitoring equipment and inserted artificial airway and continue with airbag. Lifeguards and paramedics worked together on causality for about 20 minutes on pool deck before transporting the causality to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

After the ambulance left we were aware that Ian had a pulse and was breathing,” James explains. “We had an intense debrief, our employer gave great support.

“The rescue team all felt like a huge dark cloud was over our head till the next day when we got the news that Ian was okay and no permanent damage occurred. It was such a relief to hear that news.”

Ian Mitchell was diagnosed as having had a serious stroke and was kept in hospital for several days before commencing home rehabilitation. Ian was able to visit the rescue team a few weeks after the incident to say thank you for saving his life.

“Ian and his wife Robin were amazingly grateful, and their son James emailed a heartfelt thank you. The City put on a morning tea where we all got together and shared our emotions to the whole event; it was a way of closure I feel.”

James is a huge advocate of learning CPR and first aid, and keeping those skills updated. “That first response to a situation has a huge impact in determining whether someone lives or dies, or suffers permanent damage in some way.”

Quality first-aid courses and refreshers are available in Perth through Royal Life Saving WA for just $99, and come recommended by lifeguards and aquatic managers.

For more information, click below.

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