IT WAS only after the ambulance drove away from the beach that Jason Arthurton understood the importance of what had just happened - he had just saved someone's life.
Three years ago on June 29, he jumped into action while going for his morning jog along Main Beach, Byron Bay.
He saw a man lying face down in the surf about 10-15m out from shore and immediately ran out into the surf, fully clothed, including running shoes.
"It was an automatic response," Mr Arthurton said.
"It was one of those moments we get in life.
"It was reassuring to watch myself be able to act and to be so focused."
Royal Life Saving NSW will today award Mr Arthurton a Certificate of Commendation in recognition of his efforts. The awards are given to "astonishing people who have done incredible things to help save other people's lives".
The official ceremony will be held at Government House in Sydney.
A spokesperson from Royal Life Saving NSW said Mr Arthurton's "quick response and actions directly contributed to the patient's survival and his subsequent full recovery".
A former scuba diving instructor, Mr Arthurton had participated in a lot of rescue diver training, as well as traditional CPR training.
"There wasn't any anxiety - the training just kicked in," he said.
"It was a surreal experience and it was only once the ambulance had taken him away that I realised what a moving experience it had been to see him saved.
"It wasn't like you see in the movies with great spurts of water.
"He was dead.
"There was no heartbeat.
"And eventually there was some foam, and some blood."
Mr Arthurton rolled him into the recovery position and he began to breathe.
When emergency services arrived on the scene an oxygen mask was placed on the patient and he was taken to Tweed Heads Hospital.
"Unfortunately I have not had a chance to talk to him," Mr Arthurton said.
"I understand why the police and Royal Surf Lifesaving service issue certificates of appreciation - it engages civilians to be part of the community and gives them that acknowledgement."