Meet Flynn O’Toole. He’s a 14-year-old surf lifesaver who performed his first rescue and probably saved a man’s life last weekend at Suttons Beach. Here’s how it happened – in his own words.
The teenager has shared the experience on the Redcliffe Surf Life Saving Club Facebook page in a bid to encourage swimmers to swim between the flags and inspire others to join surf lifesaving.
“I was watching the water with my patrol members. Stuart and I noticed an older gentleman struggling to keep himself afloat,” Flynn wrote.
“I saw that the man was sinking and unable to keep himself above water. His wife was trying to assist him and keep him above water, but he just kept sinking.
“I went to help him. I held him above the water and let the man get his breath back. Then I was able to help the man out of the water and get him seated on a chair. I continued to check on him as he rested and made sure that he was ok.
“If he had not been swimming in between the flags it could have ended very badly.
Working as a volunteer surf lifesaving patrol member has taught me a lot of skills to help members of the public with water safety. With the teachings of my Patrol Captain and patrol members I am learning more each time I complete a surf patrol.”
Moreton Daily spoke with Flynn this afternoon. He’s shared his story to inspire others to join Nippers and surf lifesaving. He says he was not a confident ocean swimmer before joining and had gone on to be Club Captain.
“I’ve learned the skills I needed to help that man on the day,” Flynn says.
“I think everyone should sign up to Nippers. It’s a great program to teach people surf skills and about the ocean and you can become a lifesaver in the future.”
Flynn says the incident shows anything can happen in the water, even at Redcliffe which is not known for big surf. That’s why it’s important people always swim between the flags.
The teenager says he felt calm throughout the rescue.
“Brian and the patrol members have taught me to be calm,” he says.
In the post, the club praised Flynn’s composure and the experience he’s gained as a surf lifesaver over the years.
“What makes Flynn’s story even more incredible is the fact he’s only 14 years old. Yet his composure and skill showed his years of experience,” the post said.
“Starting out in surf lifesaving as a nipper, including a Nipper Captain last season, Flynn is now a member of our Cadets youth development program, a mentor for our nippers program, as well as a lifesaver on patrol.”
His Patrol Captain Brian Roselt says he’s been working with Flynn for a couple of years and is proud of how he handled Saturday’s emergency with fellow lifesaver Stuart Maxwell.
“He was cool, calm and compassionate and that’s how we like it. He’s a champion young gentleman and I’m proud to have him on my team,” Brian explains.
“He’s given someone back to their family, which is great.”
As well as the rescue, Flynn and Stuart helped swimmers with blue bottle stings and first aid.
The incident and Flynn’s willingness to share it is timely with the summer school holidays starting today. The message is clear - swim between the red and yellow flags. It could save your life.
If you'd like to find out more about becoming a volunteer lifesaver, contact Nathan Burkitt at email@example.com, or the Cadets youth development program at firstname.lastname@example.org.