National honours for Nuggets rescue
The nature of search and rescue is that you never know when you’re going to be needed.
And no-one knows that better than veteran Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club members Paul Richardson and Andrew Budge, who were awarded the Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s BP Rescue of the Month for February.
On a misty morning, outside the Kaka Point clubhouse, Budge recalled the dramatic rescue at Nugget Point when a member of a female kayaking party got into difficulties, on February 14.
‘‘Nine out of 10 rescues don’t happen on a nice sunny day. If it had been a day like this it would have been a whole different story.’’
When Budge, a joiner, and Richardson, a rural banker, got the call, they knew anything involving Nugget Point would be tricky because of the rocks.
Shortly after noon, they launched their inflatable rescue boat from Fisherman’s Camp, just off the Nuggets Road, and powered around towards the lighthouse, where they were first on the scene.
While Richardson manned the boat, Budge swam in a 1.5 metre swell to the rugged shore, where he climbed up the rocks to assist the woman, who’d got cut getting ashore.
He administered first aid and got her to a safe place, and prepared the woman and her companion, who had come ashore to assist, to be winched up to the carpark to safety.
Richardson said radio communication was patchy under the cliffs, and he was mostly using and interpreting hand signals to coordinate the rescue effort.
‘‘The people were comfortable, and the situation wasn’t life threatening.’’
However, hypothermia was a risk, and inquisitive seals had been seen in the area, therefore the chopper was a welcome sight to get the women to safety.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Otago-Southland club support officer Sam Clutterbuck said the rescue was outstanding because it was primarily carried out by just two lifeguards, who made an excellent assessment of the situation in tricky conditions.
Budge said it was one of the best rescues he’d done. ‘‘There’s always things you could do better, but this one did go to plan.’’
He said the only thing he’d do differently next time would be to wear booties, to protect his feet and to avoid getting cut on the rocks.