Casey Brennan Awarded SLSC Certificate of Merit

For Bravery in surf rescue displayed on 17 April 2006 during the rescue of two fellow surf lifesavers in extremely rough seas when their IRB overturned at Brunswick Heads. Casey (17years) and Luke Essery (18 years) seeing that the IRB had overturned and the driver and crewman were in trouble swam out 100m and retrieved the IRB and assisted the crewman (Gavin Arthur) to the beach. Once the IRB was safely on the beach they noticed that the driver (Mark Hildebrandt) had not made shore and was in fact being taken south in a strong current. Casey grabbed a rescue tube and returned to the water after the Mark while Luke Essery obtained a rescue board from the patrol and attempted to get through the 2.5meter (5+m at the face) surf.

In an attempt to get out of the break Mark had swum further from shore and was now over 100m from shore and caught in a northerly current. Luke, seeing that Casey was near the swimmer, crossed the river on his board anticipating where the swimmers would land and was followed shortly thereafter by Gavin – who had recovered somewhat – and Sam Martin. Patrol members John Garrard and Courtney Essery took the quad-bike – with the oxy-viva and other first-aid equipment – across the road bridge (the only access to the north wall from the south side of the river) and met the others on the north beach.

Mark reached the south wall and tried to exit the water onto the rocks, but the rough seas twice knocked him back into the river and he was unable to exit. Members of the public threw the two life preservers to him but he was unable to grab them. Members of the public were helping by directing Casey towards Mark through the seas. Casey could see Mark and maintained a distance of about 10m from him across the bar, but was unable to catch him.

Mark was carried passed the north wall by the sweep and eventually was able to approach the shore. As he was emerging from the water another wave caught him and knocked him down and he was unable to stand again, but several fishermen ran to help in the calmer waters, directed by Luke who had now arrived on the north shore. Casey followed Mark in to shore after a swim of approximately 600m through rough seas.

Casey maintained Mark on oxygen and Luke, assisted by Sam Martin, controlled the scene including the subsequent arrival of the vehicular and Westpac Rescue helicopter. Mark was subsequently airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital. Casey showed exceptional courage, determination and surf ability well beyond her age.