by Ken McManus
Members of Marine Rescue Cottage Point have been labeled heroes after providing emergency first aid to a swimmer suffering a serious injury after being struck by a houseboat propeller on Saturday afternoon, February 2.
Prop Strike - MR Cottage Point assist
MR Cottage Point Unit Commander David White said a group of friends had hired a houseboat to host a weekend buck’s party afloat on Jerusalem Bay.
'Some of the passengers were swimming near the houseboat, unaware of the dangers this presented. One unlucky passenger, John, was swimming near the stern of the houseboat when the skipper suddenly went astern to avoid running aground,' UC White said.
'John was too close to the stern to keep clear and was hit by an engine propeller, suffering deep lacerations to his right ankle and foot. Fortunately, a 15ft runabout travelling with the houseboat quickly transported John to our Cottage Point base to seek urgent medical assistance.'
The patient was quickly assessed by MR member Luke Andrews, who was on duty monitoring the base radios while the crew of Cottage Point 20 was out in the rain and southerly winds, towing a 30ft Cuddles Cruiser with engine trouble to its mooring in Pittwater.
'Luke, who is trained in first aid, moved the patient ashore, elevated his deep wound, covered him to keep him warm and kept him calm and relaxed,' UC White said.
'While an ambulance was quickly summoned, the remoteness of Cottage Point meant an expected wait of at least 30 minutes, so the patient had to be kept calm and relaxed for some time.'
CP 20 was recalled to assist, with crew member and former Ambulance Officer Jude Camilleri hooking up oxygen and applying a clean dressing and pressure bandage to the gaping wound before John was transported by ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital.
'John’s wife called on Sunday to let us know that he had had surgery overnight to clean and dress his deep lacerations and while his bone was chipped, it appeared that he fortunately suffered no nerve or tendon damage.
'She was happy to report that he will make a full recovery and passed on her personal thanks to the Cottage Point duty team for their outstanding efforts in helping John, calling them her heroes.'
UC White praised the efforts of the duty team, whose professionalism and calmness under difficult circumstances ensured that the seriously injured man was provided first class emergency treatment.
He reminded boaters that propellers posed a serious safety risk and to take all precautions to ensure that no one was in the water in the ‘hazard zone’ around the props.
'Skippers should keep a proper lookout at all times, keep people out of the area around the props and turn off the engine when there are people in the water,' he said.
'It’s fortunate that in this case John should make a full recovery but boaters should always be aware that props can cause serious injuries or even kill people.'