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My name is Matthew Hutchison and I am a junior life guard at the Milnerton Surf Lifesaving Club. I am 14 years old.
On the 28th December 2015, I spent the morning climbing Lion’s Head with friends. I wasn’t on ‘official’ duty that day, but I really wanted to go down to the beach that afternoon as I knew the beach would be crowded and that the life guards on duty at the time would need all the help they could get. As my friend’s parents drove over the wooden bridge towards the club to drop me off, something told me to put my ‘resuscitation aide’ on top of my lifesaving bucket, which I did. As I climbed the stairs to the clubhouse I noticed the rescue boat coming in close to shore and that the crew where waving that ‘resuscitation was required’.
Without thinking twice, I grabbed my ‘resuscitation aide’ and ran down the beach, still in my takkies. Once the drowning victim was pulled from the craft and onto the beach by Charl Jones and Ariel Mausenbaum, I noticed frothy white foam coming from his mouth. He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. I gave Bonita Jones my resuscitation aide and she started the CPR process – she did the breathing and I did the compressions. Although it is a little blurred, I think we did 4 or 5 rounds each and with each round I kept thinking, believing and praying that the guy would start breathing. I will always remember thinking ‘I will get this guy back!’ I remember pummelling down extra hard on his chest as ER24 arrived and all of a sudden the guy started to cough – he was alive. Thank God.
The man was then stabilized by the paramedics of ER24 and taken to hospital. I remember how I couldn’t stop shaking after the incident and Mark Mausenbaum said to me that it was good to shake after such an event. It was the result of adrenaline. All the life guards received a ‘debrief’ in the club house at the end of the day. It was an amazing feeling to know that I, as a 14-year-old boy, had it in me, through the brilliant training I had received as a junior life guard and with God’s guidance, to save a man’s life. I am young, but my advice to any life guard, irrespective of their age is to always be alert and not to be afraid of tackling anything. Always remember “you are never alone out there on the beach or in the water – we are a team!”
Not a lot of people have experienced what I have I mean I'm only 16 and yet I've been through so much in the past month.
• When I qualified to be a lifeguard I would never have thought that I would do what I would have to do and honestly it was one of the most traumatic and scary experiences I've been through. My emotions were all over the place. I was filled with fear, anxiety, excitement and adrenaline.
• It was just a normal day. Not a lot of people maybe 10 swimmers. I noticed that 2 swimmers were edging out a bit further than usual so I sent one of the younger lifeguards to get them closer into shore. I told another lifeguard to go and assist him too but by the time he reached the water the situation had taken a turn for the worse.
The two men had fallen off the bank and had begun to drown. I and a fellow lifeguard rushed towards the rescue boat to go and get these two men. At this point I had so many emotions rushing through me that I didn't know what to think but in any situation communication is key. We reached the first person and picked him up and put him into the boat. As we picked him up a big wave washed over the 2nd guy and he didn't come up. Another wave came through and only after this wave did the man come up unconscious.
We picked him up and put him into the boat where I had to sit with this man. Everything was in slow motion. I just looked at the man as his eyes rolled back. When we got back to the beach we performed a 2 man Carry up the beach where we began doing CPR. After doing 5 cycles of CPR on the man there was no response and paramedics were on their way.
On the 6th cycle the man began to cough up water and we rolled him into the recovery position. A few minutes later paramedics arrived and took over the situation. Once they arrived I took a step back sat down on the beach and just broke out into tears. Not because I was sad and not because I was happy. I started crying because to be honest I had no idea how to feel and all I could do was cry. I think I started crying because I realised that this man was going to be able to live the rest of his life and that his family would be able to see him again. And best of all I had just saved a life.
2016 started with a bang for us with 4 nippers undertaking the Nipper exam on 16 January and passing with flying colours. We hosted the 2nd Nipper competition of the season at our beach on Sunday 17 January and managed to deliver our best performance to date – 18 top 3 places, 33 top 8 point scoring places overall and 5th place in total. If you bear in mind that we only took 27 competitors to the competition, this is a phenomenal result for Milnerton. To put in in perspective, 8 clubs compete with around 400 nippers in total attending on the day. We received 10 percent of the points with only about 7 percent of the competitors.
Top point scorer on the day was Under 14 Nipper Jamie Fourie with 21 individual points, followed closely by siblings, Alexia and Jake Pla with 20 individual points earned each.
Top competitor of the day was Under 10 nipper, Luca Zumpt who competed and managed to score points in every event of the day, including the winning sprint relay team and 6th in Taplin relay. That is the spirit we would like to see from all our competitors. The competitor of the season (most points scored overall) is currently jointly held by two under 9 nippers…..watch this space.
As January draws to a close, we set our sights on the new round of nipper exams on 14 February with 3 potential nippers already lined up for the exam and the 3rd Nipper competition set to take place at Big Bay on 21 February.