Surf lifesavers rushed from Ōhope Beach yesterday to save the life of a male cyclist who suffered a heart attack and stopped breathing after being involved in a crash with a car.

"It was a pretty awesome feeling to get him back. Not quite what you expect at a surf carnival," said 23-year-old Sam Roy, who was finishing a race at the Champions of the Bays surf lifesaving carnival when a woman came running for help.

When we arrived he was quite grey, which isn't a good sign

The man, believed to be in his late 40s or early 50s, remains in a critical condition at Whakatāne Hospital after the accident on West End Rd near Villis Glade at the beach carpark.

Four lifesavers at the carnival got in a buggy with a trauma kit and rushed to the accident scene 500m down the beach where two members of the public were performing CPR on the man.

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The man was lying on the road with minor abrasions after the accident about midday. It was 30C and locals set up a tent using beach umbrellas to provide shade.

The other lifesavers involved in the rescue were Whakatane Surf Lifesaving Club patrol captain Hamish Reid, Sam Teteina, of Bethells Beach Surf Club, and the first aider at the carnival, Charlotte Pawerel.

Surf lifesaver Sam Roy, who helped save the life of a cyclist at Ōhope Beach in the Bay of Plenty yesterday. Photo / George Novak
Surf lifesaver Sam Roy, who helped save the life of a cyclist at Ōhope Beach in the Bay of Plenty yesterday. Photo / George Novak

The lifesavers swung into action with Reid and Teteina giving the man oxygen and Roy doing chest compressions(CPR) - alternating the demanding job with a member of the public.

After seven to 10 minutes, the rescuers picked up an intermittent pulse and breathing.

"It was a team effort, I only did part of the job," said Roy, who has a degree in physiology majoring in cardiology, level three first aid for surf lifesaving and comes from a family of doctors and paramedics.

"I have grown up with that kind of stuff and pretty inspired from those sort of guys and hopefully what they taught me was put to good use. It was really good that members of the public started quickly," said Roy, a member of Mount Maunganui Surf Lifeguard Service, who works at a local surf shop.

Ōhope Beach, near Whakatāne, where the accident occurred yesterday. Photo / File
Ōhope Beach, near Whakatāne, where the accident occurred yesterday. Photo / File

Reid, who has been a surf lifesaver for 37 years, said the actions of the public and surf lifesavers saved the man's life.

"Once we got oxygen onto him and could get oxygen circulating in his body we managed to bring some colour back in. When we arrived he was quite grey, which isn't a good sign.

"That was probably the first time I have had to work on someone who wasn't responsive. I have had plenty of people who have had surfboard fin cuts, whacks to the head, rescues and that kind of stuff, but this was a first," Reid said.

Shortly after the group resuscitated the man, ambulances arrived and paramedics took over and transferred the man to hospital.

St John were unavailable to comment today on the actions of the public and surf lifesavers.