Coastguard Auckland honoured at search and rescue awards
Volunteers at Coastguard Auckland unit have been recognised at this year’s New Zealand Search and Rescue Awards held at Parliament on May 1.
The unit was awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity for their involvement in the rescue of a badly injured yachtsman near Waiheke Island in March last year.
Coastguard Auckland volunteers Chris Griggs and Lynne Jacobsen received the award on behalf of the rest of the unit at the awards ceremony held in Wellington.
Griggs says it was an honour to accept the award on behalf of the unit. “This rescue was a real team effort,” says Griggs. “We had no idea of the severity of the man’s injuries at first but once on scene we worked hard to bring the situation under control and provide as much comfort and pain relief as possible.”
On the night of the rescue, the Coastguard Auckland unit responded to the yachtsman’s distress call who was badly burned after being engulfed in flames on board his vessel.
Coastguard Auckland unit vessels, ASB Rescue and Lion Foundation Rescue, were launched with a plan to transfer the yachtsman to the nearest land point where an ambulance and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter were waiting.
Griggs boarded the yacht to find the man sitting in the shower under the running water in an attempt to ease the discomfort from his burns. “The fire had caused significant burns to his arms, hands and lower body. He had done the right thing by sitting under the cold water but in doing so had started to go hypothermic and was in immense pain,” says Griggs.
Once on board Lion Foundation Rescue, the man was carefully transferred to emergency services waiting onshore.
The judges said the Coastguard volunteers used their skills in a “highly stressful situation” where time was of the essence. By preventing further injury to the victim, the volunteers improved his chances of survival and recovery.
Coastguard CEO Patrick Holmes says the Auckland unit displayed immense bravery that night.
“Our volunteers are often in unique situations that require delicate planning and consideration,” says Holmes. “Their skill and experience really came to the fore in this situation and we are very proud of how they responded to this emergency.”
The NZSAR Awards are presented each year in Wellington to honour the courageous achievements of the people involved in the search and rescue sector of New Zealand.
Coastguard is a charity made up of over 2,000 highly-skilled volunteers located at 63 units around the country. Around $20 million is required annually to support Coastguard’s work with 12% of funding coming from the government. The rest is raised by Coastguard from the wider New Zealand community.