Happy outcome for river rescue
by Briony Bottarelli
16th April 2018
WE ARE BOMBARDED, on a daily basis, with all the horrors that occur in the world, along with the irresponsible and sometimes very awful things one person is capable of doing to another.
So, it is always extremely uplifting and hope filling, to hear the good side of human nature and how the safety or survival of a fellow human being can set a heroic deed into action.
On a Sunday afternoon in early March, Liz Marsh was enjoying her run along the river when she heard some cries for help and saw a young man; face down in the deep section of the river.
With split seconds to think, Liz’s lifeguard knowledge — not used for many decades — and her kayaking experience kicked in.
With shoes off, Liz headed into the water.
As she approached the young man, she was joined by Michael Wines. Michael and Liz instinctively worked as a team, with Michael flipping the young man on his back, allowing Liz to apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while they were still in the river.
Jeff Smith then assisted with the exhaustive swim to the shore and a group of people lifted the young man up the steep bank to safety.
During this time, Liz had called out for someone to call 000 and to her relief, another Warrandyte community member, Joanne Milic was speaking to the ambulance dispatcher.
Liz then ensured that her patient — in a semi-conscious state — was placed in the recovery position, enabling Liz to clear his mouth and keep his airway open until the paramedics arrived.
Several other helpers assisted with the onshore recovery, such as fetching a defibrillator and placing a blanket over the young man.
Six ambulance officers arrived, working on the young man, until he could eventually be taken to Box Hill hospital.
Saving this young man was a wonderful joint effort, but was triggered by Liz’s cool-headedness.
Her background, her first aid training and the fact that she is a former Outdoor Education leader, do not take away from her brave decision — at 54 and with a family of her own — to jump in the river and save this young man while continuing to direct his rescue.
It was not until Liz got home and had a hot shower that the reality hit her and shock set in.
Although many of us would aid and assist to the best of our abilities, not many of us could carry out such a heroic deed.
There is a mother and a father out there somewhere who will be forever grateful to Liz and the other rescuers.
Thanks to Senior Sergeant Stewart Henderson, Liz has been able to make contact with the young man she rescued.
He is fully recovered from his ordeal and Liz is still hoping to connect with him soon in Warrandyte and “give him a big hug”.
Liz has contacted Dr. Bernadette Matthews PhD, Principle Research Associate at Life Saving Victoria, who informed her that there were six drownings in the Yarra river in Warrandyte from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2017.
Although there are no statistics on non-fatal incidents (hospitalisations), previous research indicated that for every drowning there are two non-fatal incidents.