Auckland, New Zealand. On Tuesday afternoon 30th April 2019, a member of the public on the shore of French Bay came across an alarming scene. He spotted a kayak, capsized, floating in the water without its owner. Thinking quickly and taking the most responsible course of action he called the emergency services.
The New Zealand Police "Eagle" helicopter was deployed to search for a body and found a man was floating in the water in the middle of the channel. Seeing a thumbs down signal from the man, the helicopter crew on scene the helicopter crew took the selfless decision to deploy from the helicopter to assist the casualty.
Talking to the New Zealand Herald, Eagle's crew commented "His mindset was close to giving up by the sound of it, he didn't give very positive feedback initially". Whilst reassuring the casualty and providing additional flotation aids, they called for further assistance. One of the two Griffon 2000TD hovercraft used by the Fire Rescue Service based at Auckland Airport was urgently sent to the rescue.
Upon arriving to the scene, hovercraft "H2" came off hover to float alongside the two offering a low and stable surface to recover the two people in the water. Recovering the people into the large cabin, sheltered from the elements, the craft returned quickly to shore where the casualty was transferred into the awaiting ambulance and onwards transfer to Waitakere Hospital where he was treated for hypothermia.
This event is a great example of how the general public and emergency services equipped with the best resources for the job can work together in a Search & Rescue operation, and take great pride in effective lifesaving rescues.
It also underlines the importance of taking the right precautions when enjoying the water by wearing necessary safety equipment such as lifejackets, appropriate clothing, communications and letting others know your plan.
Hovercraft are proven as a great resource for water safety as testified by Griffon Hoverwork's users such as Auckland Fire Rescue Service, the UK's RNLI, Singapore's Emergency Rescue Service and Avon's Fire & Rescue Service.
Be water aware.
For footage of the rescue visit the New Zealand Herald's website.