Senior Constables recognised after rough seas rescue

When wild weather hit the Queensland Coast in early July, Sunshine Coast Water Police couldn’t have predicted what was to unfold.

What lay ahead of them was a 15-hour rescue of a 71-year-old injured sailor off the coast of Noosa Heads.

The 71-year-old man unexpectedly encountered rough seas while sailing around 100 nautical miles east of Noosa Heads on July 6.

The man activated his emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) around 9am, initiating a multi-agency rescue operation.

Due to the man’s injuries, rescue helicopters were unable to winch the man to safety.

Senior Constable Mark Muddiman was one of the officers dispatched to assist the stranded sailor alongside Senior Constable Murray Lyons and Senior Constable Darrin Tomkins and a paramedic, onboard Police Vessel Norm Watt.

“We were dispatched around 6.30pm and spent the next five hours navigating rough seas to try and locate the man’s vessel,” Senior Constable Muddiman recounts.

“A passing merchant ship also attended following the man’s EPIRB activation, however, they were unfortunately unable to pull the man to safety.

“Once on scene, the paramedic assessed the man and found he had suffered broken ribs suspected as a result of being thrown around his 10-metre yacht in extremely rough seas.”

Once the crew were able to manoeuvre the injured sailor onto the police boat, he was transported back to Mooloolaba before being taken to hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Senior Constable Muddiman said rescues with an outcome like this is what he finds most rewarding about his job.

“No two days are every the same in the Water Police Unit and you can never be quite sure what each shift will bring,” he said.

“We were fortunate to be able to catch up with this man a week later, seeing him back on the land and in the comfort of his own home made our rescue effort all worth it.

“This was one of the most complex rescues we have execute and the moment we brought that man to safety will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Senior Constable Mark Muddiman, Senior Constable Murray Lyons and Senior Constable Darrin Tomkins have been nominated for a QBank Everyday Hero Award for this rescue.

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