2019 COASTAL BRAVERY AWARDS
On 10th May 2019, Surf Life Saving WA honoured 23 individuals at the third annual Coastal Bravery Awards ceremony, hosted by Monika Kos at Mia Yellagonga (Woodside Energy).
His Excellency, The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia presented each of the recipients with their medallion and certificate.
The Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery is the highest honour, awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of exceptional bravery in circumstances of extreme peril.
16th April 2018
It was around 8am on the 16th of April 2018 when a group of surfers, including Matthew, were enjoying a morning surf at Cobblestones surf break, north of Margaret River, when they spotted what appeared to be a shark in the water in their vicinity.
With the group of surfers fleeing the water, upon realising that fellow surfer and friend Alex was being attacked, Matthew turned around and paddled directly back towards the shark and Alex, who had been bitten a number of times on the legs by what was later identified to be a great white of approximately 4 metres.
Demonstrating little regard for his own safety, Matthew stayed by Alex's side, shouting instructions before assisting him towards the shore and onto the nearby rocky ledge where, assisted by others, he applied leg ropes as tourniquets to Alex’s legs and then, using the surfboard as a stretcher, they carried him across the rocks to the carpark to await emergency services.
In nominating Matthew for this award, Alex said “He turned around and came back to aid me once he had already started fleeing the area, after a shark had been spotted and had now started biting me. He put himself at risk while trying to help me escape the situation. Most will get away as quickly as possible when a shark is in attack mode and he chose to stay and help.”
The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award, is awarded to any member of Surf Life Saving Western Australia who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on or off the West Australian coast, recognising the application of important lifesaving skills learnt through their participation in surf life saving.
29th December 2018
On the 29th of December 2018, Lisa was relaxing at her local beach, with her family off swimming. A member of the public approached Lisa, saying that someone had slipped off the rocks around the headland, into the water, and needed assistance.
Due to conditions and distance, a rescue in the area would normally require the assistance of a Jet Ski or rescue boat. With neither of these at her disposal, Lisa grabbed a surf rescue board and headed out into the water.
Out of the shelter of the cove, the strong winds and large swell made conditions treacherous, with waves washing up against the rocks off which the young man had slipped.
With conditions too dangerous for Lisa to paddle closer, and the boy making repeated unsuccessful attempts to climb back up the rocks, she convinced him to swim the short distance to her, where she was able to assist him onto the board to make the difficult journey back to the beach.
Met on the shore by emergency services, onlookers expressed amazement at Lisa’s actions, which had seen her paddle in excess of one kilometre as, without hesitation, she went to the aid of the boy.
Lisa is a member of the Esperance Goldfields Surf Life Saving Club.
Mike Wren & Malcolm Judge
17th March 2017
On the 17th March 2017, Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club member Mike Wren was at the surf club setting up for an evening function, when the police approached him, seeking his assistance. A member of the public, threatening self-harm, had entered the water and was currently some 150 metres offshore, ignoring pleas to return to safety.
Mike sought assistance from fellow club member Malcolm Judge and, despite the strong winds and swell, both of them commandeered rescue boards and paddled out in the fading light.
Following lengthy negotiations with the individual who, after an extended period in the water was struggling to stay afloat, they were able to convince him to return to shore where awaiting family members, police and onlookers had gathered.
In going to the aid of the individual, Mike and Malcolm displayed selflessness and perseverance to secure the safety of another.
Pictured: Mike Wren (left) and Malcolm Judge (right)
Mark & George Stewart
22nd April 2018
Holidaying in Nusa Lembongan off Bali, Mark and his son George were returning to shore following an afternoon surf on the 22nd April 2018 when they were alerted by locals screaming. Looking to the direction of the screams, Mark observed an individual being carried out by a strong rip.
Paddling back out, Mark and George found a man face down in the water. With locals arriving on the scene in a boat, they managed to get the man into the boat where Mark commenced CPR. Tragically, the man, another Australian holidaying on the island, was unable to be revived. Upon returning to shore, and with limited resources, aided by locals, Mark carried the deceased’s body to the local hospital; assisted in making arrangements for the transfer of the body to Bali; as well as contacting the deceased’s family to advise them of the tragic news.
In assessing the nomination, the committee found that the Stewarts, acting in a foreign country and unfamiliar surrounds, went above and beyond in their actions for both the victim and his family in the tragic circumstances.
Both Mark and George are members of the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club.
Pictured: George Stewart (left) and Mark Stewart (right).
16th January 2019
On the 16th of January 2019, as Alexis was concluding her final lesson of the day as a water safety officer at a local swimming program, an individual approached her, alerting her that his uncle was in trouble in the water.
Spotting a man some distance off shore, appearing in distress, she commandeered a rescue board and proceeded to go to his aid. On approach, she noted the man was on a board, unsuccessfully kicking and attempting to paddle, but making no headway in the strong winds. Clearly extremely fatigued in the conditions, and refusing to let go of his board, she towed him to a nearby anchor rope.
Assessing the situation, and making the decision to return to shore for further assistance, the man’s family, waiting on the beach, informed her that he suffered a brain condition, which, amongst other complications, caused paralysis on one side of his body, further compounding the already difficult conditions under which she was acting.
Disposing of her own board, Alexis swam back out to the man, slowly towing him back to safety.
Alexis is a member of Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
Emergency Services Award
The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Emergency Services Award, is awarded to any member of a recognised Emergency Response Unit who, in the fulfilment of their duties, performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.
As part of the following two awards, we also recognise two of our Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award recipients, whose acts of bravery were performed alongside the police officers involved.
First Class Constable Steven Mayger; Senior Constable Ross Cunninghame; Anthony Walker (Silver Medallion for Bravery - Citizens Award);
and First Class Constable Lynden Ganzer
12th November 2018
On the 12th of November 2018, while visiting Gantheaume Point in Broome, a young male tourist fell into the water and was being pulled out to sea by the large tides.
Hearing screams for help, Anthony Walker dived in to assist the distressed man, holding him above the water however, with the rough conditions and outgoing tide; both individuals were being dragged out to sea.
Arriving on the scene, constables Cunninghame and Ganzer located the two men nearly 100m from shore, both struggling to stay afloat. The officers entered the water, swimming out towards the pair who continued to drift further out to sea on the strong tide.
On the shore, a paddleboard was commandeered and Constable Mayger entered the water, paddling out to the two males who by this stage were nearly 500m out. Reaching the pair, they were able to cling to the board until help arrived by way of sea rescue.
In nominating Anthony for this award, officers in attendance stated that he acted selflessly by jumping into the water. “There was no doubt that his action saved the life of the distressed male. His actions allowed rescuers enough time to get to the male. …they were nothing short of heroic.”
The Police Officers involved in the rescue were deemed to have gone above and beyond their duty, entering the rough waters to go to the aid of the two men.
Pictured Left to Right: First Class Constable Steven Mayger, Senior Constable Ross Cunninghame, Anthony Walker (Silver Medallion for Bravery - Citizens Award) and First Class Constable Lynden Ganzer accepting their awards from The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia.
Sergeant Phil Cartledge, Senior Constable Paul Lloyd and Nicola Rivett (Silver Medallion for Bravery - Citizens Award)
24th October 2018
It was early in the morning on the 24th of October 2018, when Emergency Services on Rottnest Island received a call stating that the Army Jetty had collapsed and people were trapped.
Nicola, on the jetty at the time of the incident, was thrown into the water sustaining two fractured ankles. Her 11-year-old son was also thrown into the water, suffering a serious head injury in the process. Despite her injuries, Nicola managed to tread water, holding her unconscious sons head above the water until a nearby tender came to the pair’s aid, rowing the boy to safety. Nicola then managed to swim some 50 metres, crawling up the shore, to the aid of her son.
Police stated that, without Nicola’s courage and determination, they believe her son would have likely drowned at the scene. Her actions were truly exceptional and worthy of award.
On arrival at the scene, Sergeant Cartledge and Senior Constable Lloyd went to the assistance of a woman who had become trapped and pinned under the jetty by her foot. Entering the extremely cold waters underneath the collapsing jetty, when initial efforts to release the woman by way of air pressure bags failed, Senior Constable Lloyd, through the use of a lever and tremendous effort, managed to move the concrete slab trapping the woman’s foot enough to enable Sergeant Cartledge to dive under the jetty to release her.
While many individuals were involved in the rescue efforts at Rottnest Island that day, subjecting themselves to hypothermia in the cold water and at risk of further collapses of the jetty, these three individuals have been recognised for their selfless and brave actions, which undoubtedly saved lives.
Pictured Left to Right: Phillip Rivett, accepting Nicola Rivett's Silver Medallion for Bravery - Citizens Award, Sophie Lloyd, accepting Senior Constable Paul Lloyd's Silver Medallion for Bravery - Emergency Services Award and Inspector George McIntosh, accepting Sergeant Phil Cartledge's Silver Medallion for Bravery - Emergency Services Award from The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia.
The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award, is awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.
31st December 2018
On the 31st of December 2018, Michaela was windsurfing with a friend off Penguin Island.
Michaela did not witness the accident that saw her friend hit exposed reef at full speed, catapulting her from her board and badly breaking her arm. Rendered unable to swim or get back onto her board, it was some 10 minutes before Michaela noticed that her friend was in trouble and went to her aid.
Hurrying to her side, Michaela managed to manoeuvre her friend, half-resting onto the board - enough to enable her to swim and push the board and her friend, to shore.
Taking nearly an hour to reach land, all the time ensuring her friend, who was in extreme pain, remained conscious, were it not for Michaela's perseverance and tenacity in the circumstances, there may well have been a very different outcome.
3nd February 2018
Early in the morning on the 3rd of February 2018, Louise was swimming at Middleton Beach, Albany when she heard faint cries for help. Spotting a swimmer in the water who appeared to be in distress and struggling to stay afloat, Louise swam to their aid. Exhausted, having been caught in a rip, the woman appeared to be going in and out of consciousness.
Louise assisted her back to shore, holding her head above the water and swimming some 20 minutes until they were able to stand and be assisted onto the beach.
With conditions on the day described as rough and unpleasant, enough to deter the usual regular swimmers from entering the water, it is likely the individual would have drowned were it not for Louise’s actions and perseverance.
Of significant note, is that Louise swims as part of her recovery from a spinal injury sustained some two years prior, which at the time, left her with limited use of her hands.
12th January 2019
The Penguin Island sandbar is a notoriously dangerous location, renown for the strong currents that move quickly and regularly catch people unawares as they endeavour to cross. On the 12th of January 2019, Grant was kitesurfing in the area when he spotted a swimmer who appeared to be in distress.
On reaching the clearly struggling swimmer, who had already disappeared under the water numerous times, Grant supported her as they drifted with the current. Forced to release his board in his efforts to hold her out of the water, he slowly made the journey towards the shore, towing her until they were assisted by a number of witnesses on the beach.
Collapsing with exhaustion upon reaching the shore, onlookers’ state that Grant responded without hesitation and, were it not for his efforts that day, the outcome may have been very different.
Bill Marshall, Kris Mihal, Angus Wyatt & Ross Wegner
27th April 2018
Salmon Holes in our southwest is a popular, but notorious, rock-fishing black spot where many lives have been claimed over the years. On this particular day, there were a number of individuals present when a huge wave swept two unsuspecting fishermen off the rocks and into the water.
Witnessing the event from the beach, Angus, Kris, Ross and Bill entered the ocean, putting themselves at risk in the rough waters in their efforts to rescue the men. Once the rescuers had dragged the fishermen onto safe ground, others stepped in to in assist administering first aid and CPR to the men, one of whom had stopped breathing and was without heartbeat. The group continued to care for the men until emergency services arrived some 45 minutes later, with the two men transferred to hospital.
Police later stated that, had there not been people on the beach that day that had been able to help and get out to the men, they would potentially have been dealing with another two fatalities.
Pictured Left to Right: Bill Marshall, Kris Mihal, Angus Wyatt & Ross Wegner
The Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award is awarded to any person under the age of 16 who performs a lifesaving act demonstrating courage on the West Australian coast or, in the case of a member of Surf Life Saving WA, where they may have used the skills learned through their participation in surf life saving, to perform an act demonstrating courage away from the coast.
4th January 2017
Attending a birthday party on the 4th of January 2017, Harrison and his friend Noah were in the swimming pool when Harrison noticed his friend suffering a seizure.
Familiar with his friend’s illness, which had seen him suffer seizures and faint before, Harrison knew the signs and rushed to his unconscious friends' aid, holding his head above the water and attempting to lift him out of the pool.
Calling for help, others in attendance were able to lift Noah out of the water to administer CPR and first aid while emergency services were called; Noah was transferred to hospital where he suffered additional cardiac arrests before being put into an induced coma.
At just 10 years of age, Harrison showed great courage and presence of mind, which the family credit to his training as a nipper at Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club, and his quick thinking ensured his friend was able to make a full recovery.
16th January 2019
On the 16th of January 2019, Connor was surfing approximately 80m off-shore at Ocean Beach in Denmark. Seeing a swimmer at the end of the rip he had used to get out beyond the waves on, Connor recalls thinking it was strange that a person was swimming to the north away from the area patrolled by the local surf life saving club.
Catching sight of the man again some time later, and thinking he appeared confident in the water, Connor didn’t heed him much attention. A couple of waves later, and just as he was heading back out, he again caught sight of the man, who this time appeared to be distressed and calling for help.
Paddling over to him, the man, breathing heavily, caught hold of Connor’s board to keep himself afloat in the water. Holding onto the board, Connor was able to slowly swim them back to the beach. Once on firm ground, the man told Connor that he regularly swam in the bay but had underestimated the rough conditions that day, which had proved too much for him.
Just 15 years of age at the time, and calling on the skills learned as a member of the Albany Surf Life Saving Club, Connor showed awareness; maturity; and courage in going to the aid of the distressed individual, potentially averting what could have resulted in tragedy.