Crucial role for volunteers

By: Dale Hodson

Coastguard Hibiscus has spent the colder seasons training and honing our skills so we can help those in need and bring boaties in distress home. There have been a few jobs over the winter, mostly towing and jump-starts but as things go south very quickly on the water we have been lucky to do these without incident, although I did come home one day covered in fish guts as I had to lie on the floor of a 6m trailer boat to secure a battery into its holder.

Aside from my laundry we have had a roaring start to the warmer boating season. On September 22 the crew were out training when they were called to a breakdown just to the north of the Gulf Harbour Marina entrance. Our skipper for the day, Reg, is magic with everything mechanical and as usual he managed to get the vessel started before they shadowed it back towards Matakatia Bay.

The crew was then tasked to make best speed to Gulf Harbour to pick up paramedics who were needed to help a patient on a 55ft launch on its way back from Anchorite Rock. The patient had suffered a suspected cardiac event and needed urgent medical attention.
After a quick safety briefing the crew made best speed towards the last known location of the target vessel. At this stage our sister vessel North Shore Rescue as well as the Police Launch Deodar 3 were on route to assist as well.

Hibiscus Rescue 1 rendezvoused with the launch north of Tiri Tiri Matangi, where North Shore and Deodar were on scene stabilising the patient. The paramedics and our crew leaped aboard to assess the patient before the decision was made to transfer to Deodar 3 for a more comfortable ride back to Gulf Harbour, and the waiting ambulance transport to hospital. The hospital later confirmed a heart attack and after treatment the patient is now recovering.

Its very rewarding for our volunteers to be able to help in these situations, whether its safely responding at speed to transport medically trained staff to vessels, being first on scene to assess and offer medical assistance, or offering support to families and friends of those who need help, all our Coastguard crews give up their time to train and help wherever they can.

In this instance it was also lucky that two volunteers happened to be on board for the outing with the patient who were up to date with their medical training. They administered immediate first aid and following the transfer of the patient, assisted getting the vessel back to its berth.

This incident is a reminder as to how vulnerable you can be out at sea when things occur unexpectedly. Preparations need to be made to ensure safety equipment is on board and working. Luckily in this instance a charged cellphone, working VHF radio and chart plotter were all present, which enabled a quick response and favourable outcome.

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