First aid skills saved a life
A SURFER owes his life - or at least his spine - to an observant Evans Head man after he was pulled from the surf with a suspected spinal injury on Monday morning.
Ricky Forsyth was getting ready to paddle out for a surf at Main Beach at Evans Head when he noticed a man in distress.
The man, who was on a sand bar in waist-deep water, was grabbing his shoulder and appeared disorientated.
"I swam out to him and he said to me he hit his head on the sand," Mr Forsyth said.
"I told him to lie down and to be as still as he could.
"I yelled out to a bloke on the beach to call an ambulance and then brought the guy in on his board."
Fortunately, two nurses were nearby and rushed to help Mr Forsyth carry the man up the beach.
"He was numb down one arm and had trouble even talking," he said.
"There were about seven or eight people playing a role. It really went like clockwork."
An ambulance from Evans Head rushed to the beach and conveyed the injured surfer to hospital.
Mr Forsyth was quick to shake off any heroic praise but said skills he learned at a first aid course last year "clicked in" during the rescue.
"I was not in any danger myself so it was not heroic or anything. I just knew I had to get him," he said.
"I had done my first aid course last year and it sort of just clicked in.
"I would encourage anyone thinking about doing it to do it. You just don't know if you will need it for your own kids or a stranger.
"Most people are afraid of sharks but you have more chance of getting injured than being bitten by a shark."
The 39-year-old completed a first aid course with some employees from his former workplace, the Evans Head Bowling Club.
Now he works at a disability assistance facility where first aid knowledge is mandatory.
Mr Forsyth does not know the man he rescued but admits to seeing him in the surf a couple of times prior to the rescue.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said the 45-year-old man fell off his surfboard and landed head-first into a sand bar.
He was treated for suspected spinal injuries and taken to Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition.