Na­tional hon­ours for Nuggets res­cue

Clutha Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MARY-JO TOHILL

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.

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