Lifesaver's heroic swim to save backpackers
A RED Rock surf lifesaver who jumped from an IRB to rescue two women from drowning at a notorious death spot is a "deadset hero" says her club president.
Red Rock Corindi Surf Life Saving Club president Brad Kearns was piloting the IRB with Sarah Blanchard late on Sunday when they located two backpackers from France and Italy clinging to rocks, where the incoming tide would have dragged them back into the water.
Mr Kearns said the spot was notorious for causing the deaths of people caught in the dangerous outgoing current from the river.
"If we'd been a little bit later getting to them it could have been a whole different story," he said.
Mr Kearns said Ms Blanchard's efforts in rescuing the two women were heroic.
"It was quite a big swell, so we couldn't get the IRB to the two girls," he said. "Sarah decided she would have to swim in and get them out.
"She copped a fair pounding as well, but she was able to get over to them and swim with a rescue tube."
Ms Blanchard said the girls were out of the water, clinging to a ledge, but too weak and injured to climb to safety.
She was able get a rescue tube around the girls and with the help of nearby visitors, including a boyfriend of one of the girls, haul them up the cliff to safety.
Ms Blanchard said at the time she didn't have time to think too much about the dangers of what she had to do.
"When we realised we couldn't get to them in the IRB, I could see what I needed to do," she said.
"You put your life on the line in these situations. That's what we do."
Although it was her first "big rescue" Ms Blanchard handled herself like a veteran.
"I'm glad the adrenalin kicked in. It kept me from feeling the cuts and big hits when the waves pushed me onto the rocks," she said.
"It was all over pretty quickly. Not much more than 15 minutes I would say."
After making sure Ms Blanchard and the two women were safe, Mr Kearns returned to base and took an all-terrain vehicle to Little Beach.
He loaded the women and their male companion, who had dislocated his shoulder, into the club's all terrain vehicle for the trip to the first aid room..
"Rebecca Yager and Mark Yager took over in the first aid room and treated them for suspected rib fractures. They administered first aid for cuts and bruises and oxygen therapy," Mr Kearns said.
"They referred the two girls and a male travelling with them, who dislocated his shoulder during the rescue, to hospital for further treatment."
They were able to drive to Coffs Harbour Health Campus in their own vehicle, where they were treated for their injuries.