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Western Australian lifeguards recognised for bravery

Western Australian lifeguards recognised for bravery
December 18, 2013

Lifeguards from three aquatic and recreation facilities in Western Australia have been recognised for their outstanding achievements at the 2013 Royal Life Saving Society (WA)/Western Power Bravery Awards.

The awards (citations listed below), presented at Government House in Perth, recognised four separate incidents in the past year when trained Lifeguards were required to perform rescues and resuscitation of patrons in their facilities.

Gold Star Bravery Awards were presented to:

• Albany Aquatic Centre: Ebony Sleep, Leah Pass, Carrie Barclay and David Hulcup

• Challenge Stadium/VenuesWest: Sasha Kovalenko and Ryan O'Sullivan

• Challenge Stadium/VenuesWest: Corey Hollow, Michael Tinley and Christopher Hardie receive the Gold Star Bravery Award.

• Ballajura Aquatic Centre/ City of Swan: Kristopher Bird, Meagen Smith and Matthew Nelson.

All award recipients were presented with their awards by the Governor of Western Australia Malcolm McCusker AO QC.

Award citations were as follows:

Albany Aquatic Centre

On Thursday 23rd May 2013 at the Albany Aquatic and Leisure Centre, a patron notified lifeguard on duty Ebony Sleep that an elderly lady was floating face down, unconscious in the shallow end of the 50 metre lap pool. Ebony responded immediately. She arrived on the scene and indicated 'an emergency situation'. Ebony radioed her Duty Manager (Dave Hulcup) for assistance, then continued to successfully retrieve the casualty from the water up onto pool deck and commenced 1 person CPR as no signs of life were present.

Meanwhile fellow staff members, Carrie Barclay, who was working as the admin officer and Leah Pass, who was working in the café heard the call for assistance and arrived on the scene to help. Carrie assisted Ebony and they worked together administering 2 person CPR, while Leah set up the defibrillator and oxygen equipment on the casualty. After the second shock, the patient responded and commenced breathing. The lady was placed into the recovery position and monitored by Ebony, Carrie and Leah until the ambulance arrived. Duty Manager Dave liaised with the emergency services and directed paramedic crews to the scene.

The lady was transported to Perth hospital where she made a full recovery, it was established that she had suffered a heart attack. Lifeguard Ebony Sleep is an 18 year old Royal Life Saving Trainee, and had only completed her RLS pool lifeguard qualification three weeks prior to the incident. She was able to effectively apply her new lifesaving skills. It was the quick and combined lifesaving actions undertaken by Ebony and her fellow staff members Carrie, Leah and Dave that resulted in the saving of the lady's life.

• Ebony Sleep, Leah Pass, Carrie Barclay and David Hulcup received the Gold Star Bravery Award.

Challenge Stadium/VenuesWest

The second award was presented to the team from VenuesWest for their outstanding care for a patron who collapsed at a Group Fitness Class at Challenge Stadium.

Late last year, two lifeguards, Alexander (Sasha) Kovalenko and Ryan O'Sullivan, were called to an incident which required them to perform resuscitation on a participant of a group fitness class. It was 6am when Sasha received a radio call that a patron had collapsed in front of Challenge Stadium.

The class had only just finished their warm-up when the patron collapsed. When arriving at the scene, Sasha took over the care of the patient from the fitness instructor. It was established that the patron was not breathing. Sasha radioed for further assistance from Ryan, prior to clearing the patient's airways and commencing CPR. Ryan contacted the ambulance and arrived soon after with the defibrillator. Shocks were administered by the defibrillator as there was no heart beat detected. They also continued CPR. Upon arrival of the ambulance a further two shocks were administered before the patient was taken to hospital for further treatment and observation. The quick response of both lifeguards resulted in the patient making a full recovery.

• Sasha Kovalenko and Ryan O'Sullivan received the Gold Star Bravery Award for their lifesaving intervention.

Challenge Stadium/VenuesWest

The third set of facility Lifeguards to be recognised were also from VenuesWest at Challenge Stadium.

On the afternoon of the 17th August 2013, a diving competition would take a different turn of events. A member of the diving club, Michael Tiney, was watching the event when he noticed something was a bit out of place. Michael had noticed there was someone at the bottom of the 5m deep diving pool.

This person was practicing 'free diving', a dangerous sport and something that is not permitted within Challenge Stadium. Michael thought the person had been under the water for a bit too long so he dove in, swam down and pulled the diver up to the surface.

When the man was pulled to the surface he was not breathing and had no pulse. Lifeguard Chris had just seen what was going on, alerted the other lifeguards on duty by radioing through a 'code blue', then dived into the pool and helped Michael bring the man to the side. It was at the side of the pool that Clare and Corey commenced two person CPR on the man. Corey radioed to a fellow member of staff to collect emergency equipment and to contact 000 to get an ambulance to the facility. It was after a minute of CPR that the man commenced breathing on his own again and he was placed in the recovery position. Oxygen therapy was administered and the defibrillator attached as a precautionary measure. The ambulance crews arrived about 10 minutes after the incident occurred and took over the situation.

Without the swiftly executed actions of the bystanders and the lifeguards, this person may not have had the same outcome.

• Corey Hollow, Michael Tinley and Christopher Hardie received the Gold Star Bravery Award.

Ballajura Aquatic Centre/City of Swan

The final facility to be recognised was the Lifeguard Team from the City of Swan at Ballajura Aquatic Centre.

On Wednesday 25th September 2013 at Ballajura Aquatic Centre, a 44 year old man who was a regular patron, appeared to have stopped swimming in the middle lanes in the lap pool and did not surface. A patron raised concern to a staff member who immediately notified lifeguards of the incident.

Lifeguard on duty Meagen Smith responded instantly by raising the alarm and entering the water. Another lifeguard on duty, Kristopher Bird, responded to the alarm, dove into the water and assisted in successfully removing the patient from the water. They checked for signs of life and breathing, however there were none. Kristopher cleared the airway and initiated CPR, while Meagen notified other staff on duty to call the ambulance, retrieved the oxygen and defibrillator, and then cleared the pools.

Matthew Nelson arrived at the scene to assist and without hesitation began dual operator CPR with Kris. They worked together to introduce oxygen and the defibrillator to the patient. They continued dual operator CPR for approximately eight to 10 minutes until paramedics arrived and took over the patient.

Paramedics continued to work on the patron as he was taken to Joondalup Hospital by ambulance. Despite the sustained efforts by the three lifeguards, paramedics and doctors at the hospital, the gentleman sadly passed away. Information received indicates that the patient suffered a heart attack

The three staff at Ballajura Aquatic Centre acted swiftly and worked together to put into action their training and responded professionally to a very stressful situation. The response and actions taken by the three staff members was praised by paramedics, other patrons and centre management.

• Kristopher Bird, Meagen Smith and Matthew Nelson received the Gold Star Bravery Award.

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