Life-savers spur do­na­tion

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By STUART WHI­TAKER

news@tepuke­times.co.nz

There’s no doubt about it — two surf life­guards saved Re­gan Gal­lagher’s life.

But it wasn’t a surf res­cue — they used the skills they learned as life­guards at a crash on the Te Puke High­way in March.

Re­gan lost the lower part of his right leg in the March 11 crash, but says it was the ef­forts of two Puke­hina Surf Res­cue life­guards — who by coin­ci­dence came across the scene within min­utes of one an­other — that en­sured the con­se­quences weren’t much worse.

Kir­wan Te Hi­ini, a 16-year-old Tau­ranga Boys’ Col­lege stu­dent, and Andy McDow­ell, were nom­i­nated for Bay of Plenty Surf Life­sav­ing’s monthly res­cue award in April, com­ing sec­ond, and Re­gan has ac­knowl­edged their ef­forts by mak­ing a do­na­tion to the club that will go to­wards fund­ing high-level first aid cour­ses for life­guards.

Re­gan was rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle in­volved in a crash with a car. In the col­li­sion he flew sev­eral me­tres and landed on Maketu¯ Rd.

He lost 15 units of blood and ended up in hospi­tal for 23 days.

While there were oth­ers al­ready at the scene, Andy was the first of the two life­guards to ar­rive.

”[Re­gan] was the main pri­or­ity be­cause I re­ally thought he was go­ing to die,” says Andy.

“He was in and out of con­scious­ness. I was say­ing words of af­fir­ma­tion, telling him he was go­ing to be okay to keep him with us be­cause if he fainted or passed out we weren’t go­ing to get him back.”

Re­gan says he re­mem­bers “hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion and drift­ing off”.

“I re­mem­ber Andy yelling at me ‘deeply’ — to breath deeply — and I did and it worked.”

Kir­wan looked to Andy for ad­vice and was sent to set­tle the driver of the car who had also been in­jured.

Kir­wan says he had a good idea what to do be­cause part of his surf life­sav­ing train­ing had in­volved car crash sce­nar­ios. “I’m stoked I could help,” he says. As Andy drove to­wards the scene, peo­ple driv­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion were flash­ing their lights at him.

“I just as­sumed it had hap­pened a while ago, but when I got there, the bike was still on top of him.”

He says those peo­ple should have stopped to help, but he thinks peo­ple don’t be­cause they don’t know how to re­spond — which is why he is pleased Re­gan’s do­na­tion will go to­wards im­prov­ing first aid skills.

“The idea is to get more peo­ple through first aid so there are more peo­ple run­ning around with first aid tick­ets,” says Re­gan.

Re­gan worked as a lo­co­mo­tive en­gi­neer with Ki­wirail prior to the crash, and is un­sure if he will be able to re­turn to the same job.

“But Ki­wirail have been mas­sively sup­port­ive — they will re­tain me and re­train me.”

Andy says it was good to be able to use the skills learned as a life­guard in a dif­fer­ent emer­gency sit­u­a­tion to the beach.

Re­gan Gal­lagher (cen­tre) who lost his leg after a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent in March meets up with the two Puke­hina surf life­savers who saved his life, Kir­wan Te Hi­ini, left, and Andy McDow­ell.

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