It was late on a Saturday evening while working on his car that Scott Andrews got the call to respond to an after-hours emergency.
Scott, a volunteer rescue crewman for the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service knew he had to gather his gear quickly and head to the base.
A father and his three children had become stranded on their jet ski after it got caught in mangroves on the Gold Coast. The shallow water making attempts by emergency services to rescue them impossible.
“We left Carrara conducted a search and when we located them I was winched down,” Scott said.
“The first thing the father did was pass his three-year-old to me, having a three-year-old at home myself I knew he had a lot of trust in surf lifesaving to just hand his child to me without hesitating.
“The mud was ankle to shin deep and I had to carry each child back to the hoisting point to winch them to the aircraft, each time I would sink a bit further at one point the mud was up to my knees.
“I conducted three hoists to get the children in the aircraft.
“On the third one, I remember telling the father if we fly off we have reached our weight capacity, your kids will be safe but we will have to come back for you.”
Thankfully, they were able to transport the entire family back to the hangar where they were given the all clear by paramedics.
“The father came back a week later to say thank you, and he commented on how fit I was to be able to do what I did,” he said.
“The entire job would have been 25 minutes of going back and forth, performing hoist after hoist and all at around 80 per cent tempo.”
Andrews crediting the extensive training program undertaken in providing him the skills to perform the rescue.
“The helicopter service does fitness testing every six months, at any stage of the year, day or night, we could be called upon and it’s important to be ready,” he said.
“There is no room for error, mistake or complacency.”
Scott applied to join the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service in 2017, after volunteering more than 4,000 hours and achieving all he thought he wanted to in other areas of lifesaving.
Scott with his two sons in front of Lifesaver 45
“There are so many avenues and pathways in surf lifesaving. I started doing five to six hundred hours on the beach each season, then moved into an advisory role in communications, even becoming a trainer, assessor and facilitator, before joining the helicopter service,” Andrews said.
“Being part of the service is not a right, it is a privilege, taken with a lot of preparation both physically and mentally.
“Crew tend to stay for a very long time, there are people whose tenure stands at over 20 years, so the recruitment process doesn’t happen frequently.
“I waited five years for an opportunity to open up to apply, for me I had to make sure my physical fitness was up to standard and all my lifesaving awards were current.”
Lifesaving is a family affair for the Andrews’, Scott was introduced to the movement by his father and is now involved with his wife and children.
“I actually met my wife through surf lifesaving and proposed to her at the pre-judging night of Summer Surf Girl,” he said.
“Our wedding was planned in the off season just so we could have all our wedding guests there without worrying about who was on patrol.
“My eldest son is already involved in nippers and my youngest will be next year.”
Scott with wife Breanna and their children
Scott encourages everyone to get involved in the lifesaving community and explore various opportunities available.
“Any opportunity you want to do, as long as you put your mind to it, there will be someone else who has gone down that path and is willing to help.”
Article by Chloe Maxwell