When you’re a lifeguard at one of Sydney’s most popular beaches, you have to be ready for anything. Sunny days and blue skies with lake-like conditions are the stuff of dreams for lifeguards. It’s when the weather is fierce, the wind picks up and the swell rises that challenges arise.
At Randwick Council we’re lucky to have a team of lifeguards who are highly trained and skilled in all circumstances. Josh Reading has been a fulltime employee since 2005 and was recently awarded a Meritorious Service award from APOLA (the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association). The award recognises skill in dangerous rescue, bravery, and outstanding application of lifesaving rescue and first aid skills.
“Josh is hardworking and dedicated to his job and is a great waterman. He is well deserving of this award,” says Will McCormack, a local surfer who was rescued by Josh in 2019.
It was Tuesday 4 June 2019 and Josh Reading was working in Maroubra. A winter storm was brewing, and a low-pressure system was creating a large southerly swell with howling winds. Although the beaches were closed, many local surfers (including Will and his mates) were out surfing the rare break that occurs in certain conditions off Wedding Cake Island.
“At first it seemed manageable for an experienced surfer, but then suddenly the wind picked up and the swell changed,” said Josh.
Will and his friends had been swept south in dangerous conditions. Some of Will’s friends managed to climb out at Gordon’s Bay on the rocks. Yet Will had been swept further out to sea. Lifeguards were notified that Will needed some assistance by a call from a resident. Pete Halcro (Lifeguard Supervisor) attended the scene from land and could signal to Will from the cliff. Being a local surfer, Will knew Pete and he could see him signalling that help was coming and not to attempt to come in via the rocks – it was too dangerous, the swell had grown, and the crashing on the rocks was severe. Will maintained his position in the surf, which at this point was around near Clovelly.
Meanwhile, Josh had launched the jet ski from Maroubra and used his expertise and personal watercraft skills to navigate the dangerous conditions. As the wind was severe, the rescue helicopter could not attend, leaving Josh as the only emergency response. When he arrived on the scene, Josh spotted Will approximately 100 metres from the rockface of the Clovelly carpark. Once Will was safely on the jet ski, Josh returned them both to the safety of Coogee Beach.
For Josh, the experience was a reminder of the great team that he's lucky to be part of. "I’m very grateful to work alongside such a great team of lifeguards and for the support Randwick Council give the lifeguard service, with the most professional and up to date rescue equipment so we can perform rescues like this," says Josh.
“I’m so proud of Josh – he went above and beyond his role and service as a lifeguard in these life-threatening surf conditions. I’m so pleased he’s being recognised for his efforts and bravery with this award,” says Peter Halcro, Supervisor Beach Lifeguards. Congratulations Josh!Back to top