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A team response with rescue helicopter

A team response with rescue helicopter

On Sunday, Life Flight crewman Mike Beausoleil​ scanned the rolling swell 300 metres off the Wainuiomata coast in Lower Hutt from the door of the Wellington Westpac Rescue Helicopter. Something stood out in the blue-grey water.

The following article appeared on Stuff on 20 November written by Matthew Tso.  Photo credit: Rosa Woods/Stuff.

“It’s very difficult to pick a person out in the water. You have to look for something out of the ordinary – something that doesn’t belong.

“In this case it was his bright red shoes – that’s how we saw him.”

The 11-year-old from Upper Hutt had been playing in knee-deep water when he stepped into a hole and was swept off his feet by a wave.

Half an hour later he would be winched from the sea, hypothermic and semi-conscious.

A man jumped in after him and the pair made it to a rock about 180m offshore, but Lincoln was again swept off by a wave.

As a rip carried Lincoln further out to sea, he remembered his school water safety training. He performed a technique called “the pencil float” to keep his mouth above the surface.

“I wasn’t thinking – just trying to keep my head up. I knew not to fight the rip.”

He’d done enough to keep himself alive until the helicopter arrived.

Hannah  was the Wellington Free Ambulance intensive care paramedic who was winched down to retrieve the exhausted Lincoln.

She grabbed him as he went under the water.

“If he’d been in there 30 seconds to a minute longer, he would have been dead.”

Lincoln remembers the moment the helicopter came overhead.

“I heard the helicopter ... I saw it was red and I knew it was a rescue helicopter. I knew they’d found me.”

The helicopter dotted down near the beach, where Lincoln was treated by ambulance staff and taken to Wellington Hospital.

Lincoln’s body temperature was 26 degrees Celsius when he was pulled from the water – the average human body temperature is around 36.5C and a person is considered hypothermic if their temperature falls below 35C.

Once Lincoln was ashore the crew went back for the man still stranded on the rock.

Beausoleil said the 25 knot northerly made for challenging flying conditions. Photos taken from shore show pilot Bernie Pepper hovering the helicopter a metre off the water’s surface so the man could climb aboard.

Hannah said the incident highlighted the importance of water safety. As New Zealand headed into summer she said it was imperative people knew how to read conditions and how to keep themselves safe.

Lincoln’s safety lessons had almost certainly help keep him alive while he awaited rescue, she said.

Speaking to Stuff on Friday after delivering chocolates and a card to the crew that rescued him, Lincoln said he had no idea what had become of his lucky red shoes.

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