The daring rescue of an injured man off jagged rocks at Bowentown on Christmas Day has been named Surf Life Saving New Zealand's rescue of the month.
In the early hours of Waihi Beach Lifeguard Service's Christmas Day patrol at Bowentown, patrol captain Ella Higgins received a call about a patient with a suspected hip fracture "on the rocks" somewhere nearby, according to Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.
The precise location was unknown, so Higgins and fellow surf lifeguards Michiel Cumming and Gabriella de Latour drove the all-terrain vehicle to scan the rocks and nearby Anzac Bay, to no avail.
As they were heading back to base they met police, who told them Cave Bay was the location.
Travel by foot was deemed ineffective and time-consuming, so Cumming and Higgins launched the inflatable rescue boat (IRB) and headed to the remote location while de Latour maintained the Bowentown patrol base.
Cumming and Higgins found the patient's distressed son frantically waving his arms 400 metres along the rocks towards the point from Cave Bay.
On arrival, it was deemed unsafe to leave the IRB due to surf conditions, so Cumming swam from the IRB to the patient to provide immediate assistance.
He handed the assistance work over to paramedics when they arrived, while Higgins transported the rescue team and equipment to the location via IRB.
The patient's condition was deteriorating, however, so members of the public held the boat while Higgins assisted Cumming at the scene.
As the rescue helicopter arrived, two flight medics were winched down 50 metres from the patient's location.
A plan was made to administer pain relief to the patient and transport him to a location where he could be winched out.
The team had to be extremely careful while transferring him from his original position, lying on his stomach on a rock, to a flat position on his back. Cumming and Higgins assisted in a textbook body-roll on to the spinal board with the help of the Fire Rescue team and the paramedic.
The team then decided to move the patient to a more appropriate winch site 50 metres from the initial incident.
Cumming and Higgins assisted in the carry, dodging submerged and visible rocks as well as the incoming tide.
The patient was lifted on to a rock and secured by the flight medics, then winched out.
Cumming, along with fire and rescue personnel, surrounded the rock in case the patient was blown into the water by the downward wind pressure from the helicopter.
Higgins secured the IRB from the members of the public and drove to a safer location away from the helicopter. The patient was airlifted at 12.35pm.
This was a fantastic effort involving all emergency services working cohesively together.
As the first-place winner of BP Rescue of the Month, Waihi Beach Lifeguard Service will be recognised with $500-worth of BP gift vouchers.
Matt Elliot, BP NZ managing director, said the skills and bravery of surf lifeguards continued to impress the BP team.
"This rescue is another example of these amazing efforts."
A rescue in Sumner, Christchurch was awarded second place while third went to the efforts of lifeguards at Omaha Beach in Auckland.