Goolwa Surf Life Savers rescue a lifeless man on Goolwa Beach

TO THE RESCUE: Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club rescuers Jack De Caux, Phil Ball, Cody Oughton, Georgia Livingston, Tyla Cousins and Jeremiah Hill. Photo: Emmalie Balnaves-Gale.
TO THE RESCUE: Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club rescuers Jack De Caux, Phil Ball, Cody Oughton, Georgia Livingston, Tyla Cousins and Jeremiah Hill. Photo: Emmalie Balnaves-Gale.

“He looked dead… his eyes were open, there was no pulse, no breathing and he looked grey.”

Can you imagine holding someone’s life in your hands?

Despite having all the training they needed, nothing could mentally prepare some of the region’s best surf life savers when they came face to face with a life or death rescue earlier this year.

On Australia Day long weekend, the Goolwa Surf Live Saving Club (GSLSC) was put to the test when a middle-aged man was pulled lifeless from the water.

“He had stopped breathing… no one really expected him to come back,” surf life saver Jeremiah Hill said.

Jeremiah was one of three life savers patrolling the beach when they found the man’s wife and children pulling him up the beach.

TO THE RESCUE: Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club rescuers Jack De Caux, Jeremiah Hill, Georgia Livingston, Phil Ball, Tyla Cousins and Cody Oughton. Photo: Emmalie Balnaves-Gale.

TO THE RESCUE: Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club rescuers Jack De Caux, Jeremiah Hill, Georgia Livingston, Phil Ball, Tyla Cousins and Cody Oughton. Photo: Emmalie Balnaves-Gale.

“They were trying to carry him but he appeared to be dead weight so we sprinted to them and started trying to resuscitate the man,” he said.

“It was a little scary because I was convinced he was dead; he didn’t have a pulse for about a minute.”

After three rounds of CPR, the man began breathing just before the rescue team started the refibrillator.

“He was still unconscious but once the doctor that was there confirmed he could feel a pulse, you could tell everyone just relaxed,” he said.

“His kids were visibly distressed but one of the doctors reassured them their dad was going to be okay now.”

Tyla Cousins was also one of the first on scene and said as much as the team had trained for an event like this, it was reassuring to have the support of three beachgoers who also happened to be two doctors and a nurse.

He had stopped breathing… no one really expected him to come back

“There were 15 people who helped out overall and it was good to see the community really allowed us to do our job,” she said.

While an experience of this nature can take its toll on the dedicated volunteers, Tyla said the team received great support from the surf club, Surf Life Saving SA and the community at large in the days that followed.

“We had a meeting as a club to talk about what happened that day and debriefed the next week,” she said.

As the club eases out of one of its busiest seasons yet, the team look forward to its new facilities they believe will help them to reduce the number of incidents.