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Swift actions saved swimmer at Midway

Lifeguards were about to start the Gisborne championships prize-giving at Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday when a call came in about someone in trouble in the surf at Midway.

It happened at around 6pm and patrols on the city beaches had ended for the day.

An IRB crew from Waikanae were mobilised and they raced down the beach to the area between Midway and The Pipe where a swimmer, a man in his 50s, had been seen in difficulties.

“They got there fast and had the person safely back on the beach very quickly,” a witness said. “The swimmer had been supported by a surfer until the IRB arrived.”

Police initiated the rescue after a call from a member of the public.

The Character Roofing Surf Life Saving Emergency Call-out Squad responded and mobilised the Waikanae IRB.

“It was looking very serious and at one stage I was about to swim out myself to the guy when I saw the IRB on the way,” said Justin Martin of the call-out squad.

“The surfer and the swimmer he was supporting were not far from shore but they were not going anywhere because of the strong current. If it had not been for the surfer the incident could have had a very serious outcome.”

The man was treated on the beach by St John Ambulance paramedics and transported to Gisborne Hospital.

The Trust Tairawhiti Rescue Helicopter was also called out and arrived on scene in under 10 minutes.

“We were stood down as we arrived because the swimmer had already been rescued,” a rescue chopper spokeswoman said.

“It was a good result for everyone involved.”

The man was treated and discharged from hospital.