Coastguard – Care with flares needed

The unit has continued to be very busy despite continued high winds over much of the holiday season that have not made for the best conditions for getting out on the water. A large number of the work we undertake involves responding to breakdowns of some sort, ranging from flat batteries to fuel issues – or just lack of fuel.

But when our crews are out on the water, they have to be ready for any situation that may arise. All of our operational crew are first aid trained, but our main focus when there is a more serious event is to assist getting the patient to professional medical help as quickly as we can.

Recently, one of crews was cruising towards Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island for a lunch break after a couple of early morning callouts, when over the radio they were asked to make best speed to Rabbit Island to assist the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. A man had taken ill on a yacht anchored off the island after a couple of dives earlier that day. On arrival, Westpac was already in the process of winching their medic down to the yacht. Hibiscus Rescue 1 tied up alongside the yacht and once the patient was assessed it was decided to transfer him to the rescue vessel so that he could be taken to Schoolhouse Bay on Kawau where it would be easier to then transfer him to the helicopter and on to hospital. After delivering the patient to the paramedics, the crew of Hibiscus Rescue 1 returned to the yacht to assist with getting the yacht and remaining passenger back to Gulf Harbour. It was pleasing for the crew to hear later that the patient was recovering well after being transferred from Auckland Hospital to Christchurch for treatment in the hyperbaric chamber used for effects of the bends.

On another note, it’s great that boaties have all the proper safety equipment on board their vessel when on the water but ensuring this is used correctly is essential to ensure that emergency services are not called out unnecessarily. A recent late night call out is a perfect example of the resources that are required in order to respond to callouts. The Hibiscus Rescue vessel crew were called out at 11.15pm after a member of the public and a passing rescue helicopter had seen a distress flare in the area of Te Haruhi Bay in Shakespear Regional Park. With a crew on the water in less than 15 minutes and the police helicopter as well as ground resources responding, the rescue vessel was stood down after being informed that the flare had been activated accidentally. So, after a return to Gulf Harbour, and washing the boat, the crew were back home at 12.30am.

It’s nice to know that Search and Rescue resources are available and will respond quickly to any emergency, but it goes without saying that care should be taken in the use of such safety equipment.