Speedy rescue a lucky break

CALL it good luck, but an American tourist has a fire in the Yamba surf club on February 8 to thank for his quick rescue from a rip at Turners Beach on Thursday.

Strange as it may seem, if there had been no fire, the rescue would have taken much longer.

Here's how things unfolded, at least from how we observed it.

We have a police radio scanner in our Grafton newsroom.

Just before 4pm we heard a call come over police radio that there was a surfer in trouble at Turners Beach.

Our chief photographer happened to be on Yamba's Main Beach at the time, photographing former world champion lifesaver Zane Holmes and former Yamba lifesaver Alyce Bennett, who were there to present a donation from Telstra to help the Yamba Surf Lifesaving Club get back on its feet after the fire.

We rang our photographer, who was standing near Yamba surf club stalwart Jim Dougherty.

He told Mr Dougherty that police had just called a code red on the surfer. Mr Dougherty then called his rubber ducky crew, who were at the water's edge as a backdrop for the photo, and in a flash they were heading out to sea and around to Turners for the rescue.

The police got there quickly, but the rescue crew was quicker, and the rescue performed successfully.

So, from the time we heard the message come over police radio until the time the rubber ducky crew was punching through the shore break, was a matter of seconds.

But had there been no fire in February, none of them would have even been on the beach.

Some days you are in luck.

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