Whitecliffe Year 3 BFA Graphic Design major, Russell Neill, was one of ten lifeguards from the Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service who saved the life of an unconscious man pulled from the water on January 30, 2011.
At 12.42p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Surf Lifeguards were notified that a man had been pulled from the water at Mangawhai Heads Beach, unconscious and not breathing 200 metres north of the flagged area.
Immediately Patrol Captain Richard Kannemeyer dispatched Surf Lifeguards Olivia Dobrowolski, Patria Harris and Simon Dobrowolski on a quad bike to where the man had been pulled out of the water, closely followed by Russell Neill and Aaron Young. At the same time Surf Lifeguards Tim Gibb, Oliver Stewart and Tom Kehoe who were doing IRB training on the bar heard the radio call and responded to the incident.
The team, including Russell administered CPR for about 18 - 20 minutes before they had the slightest recognition of any signs of life. This included four shocks with the defibrillator in this time and after the fourth they felt a faint pulse. The patient was then transferred to an ambulance for further treatment by St John staff.After the all clear was given to move the patient, the Surf Lifeguards transported him from the ambulance to a rescue helicopter, which then left for Whangarei Hospital.
Whangarei Ambulance Staff stated the following in regards to the actions of the Surf Lifeguards;