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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Porirua City Council 

Ethan Hunter saw something was wrong and reacted.
It was a very hot, busy beach day when the 18-year-old Porirua lifeguard went walking with his family on Te Paerahi beach in Hawke’s Bay on 28 December. Looking out at sea he spotted a young swimmer and his father in trouble about 50m past the breakers.
“At first it looked like they were having a good time, but as we got closer, we could hear them screaming for help,” Ethan says.
He acted immediately, grabbing two logs and swimming out to the pair, who were tired and scared when he reached them.
“They were panicked, pretty drained, and exhausted. So, first I made sure they were calm, then I just pulled them with the logs, using the crash of the waves to help push us back to shore until we hit one of the sand banks.”
In the meantime, his cousin alerted people nearby and called emergency services, so when Ethan got to closer the shore with the distressed father and son, help was on hand.
Police had high praise for Ethan’s quick actions, noting both swimmers made a full recovery after a check at hospital.
“His training proved valuable that day in averting a possible greater emergency or drowning,” the police citation read.
Ethan says the reaction to his rescue has been unexpected and lovely, but he’s just happy it all worked out for everybody involved.
“I did feel down a few days after as so many people were passing away from drowning – often people going out to help those in distress also get into trouble and I know that could have happened to me too. I’m just glad everything turned out OK and I was there.”
A lifeguard at Porirua’s pools for just over a year now, he says his training made his reactions instinctual in Hawke’s Bay.
“We get to learn the procedures of what to do when someone gets into an incident and knowing how to deal with that. It’s really good experience and knowledge to have!”
Ethan says he enjoys working as a lifeguard and swim instructor at Porirua pools, which has great training. He is passionate about teaching people to be confident swimmers and know what to do if something goes wrong in or near water.
“In summer we have lots of people going to beaches, rivers, and waterways, where you can get into trouble when you don’t know how to swim or you’re not a confident swimmer. We need to teach people to swim confidently so that they can survive out in the water.”