Bondi Rescue Series 2 Episode 7: A person in trouble
A tragedy unfolds at Bondi Beach when lifeguards are unable to locate a man last seen struggling to stay afloat at the southern end of the beach where there is a dangerous rip. With no friends or family reporting a missing person, the lifeguards hope all is well. Summary by Janet Bell.
During the making of Bondi Rescue there were usually six cameras roaming the beach to capture the action, and one fixed in the tower. Even so, like the lifeguards, they sometimes missed the actual incident but are usually quick to follow up. This second series of 10 programs was shot during the 2007 summer and followed the enormous success of the first series filmed during the summer of 2006. In this series there is the addition of a young western suburbs trainee who had not grown up with the surf at his back door and the first full-time female squad member, a lifeguard from the Central Coast of NSW.
These young men and women who work as professional lifeguards personify the stereotypical image of the bronzed Australians with their laconic sense of humour and their athletic prowess. They’re also patient and welcoming of non-Australians to the beach while some of them have a smattering of other languages such as French, Italian and Japanese. The series has been shown in the United Kingdom and around the world so it’s to be hoped that visitors to Australia may learn from this series and especially from this program, that the ocean is not always benign.
A tragedy unfolds at Bondi Beach when the lifeguards see someone in difficulty in treacherous water who then disappears from view behind the waves. There are 20,000 people at the beach that day and when no-one is reported missing, the lifeguards desperately hope that the person in difficulty was somehow able to leave the water. Two hours later a 16-year-old reports that his father is missing and the lifeguards are plunged into despair.
Title Curator’s Notes
In the first series of Bondi Rescue, filmed during the summer of 2006, there was a near drowning when a Japanese student was discovered face down in the water and was resuscitated with the use of the paddles to restart his heart. This time, a new arrival to Australia who can’t swim, a Mongolian doctor with a young family, loses his footing in a rip and is soon lost to view. With all the lifeguards’ skills he can’t be found. Two hours later the rescue helicopter finds a body under the water and he is pronounced dead by ambulance personnel after a futile attempt to revive him.
The producer of the series Michael Cordell, and the broadcaster Network Ten are to be commended for the sensitivity with which this tragic story is told. The program opens with one of the lifeguards, nicknamed Whippet (otherwise known as Ryan Clark), alerting us to the content of the program to follow. A fund was set up by the broadcaster and producer for the family left without its breadwinner to which viewers generously contributed. The lifeguards hope this program will help to emphasise the very real dangers of the surf. The family returned to Mongolia and soon afterwards sent a letter to the lifeguards. It’s a moving tribute to these dedicated men and women who patrol the beach even when, as in this case, they are unable to avert a tragedy.
This episode is for everyone who visits the beach. It’s about the unforgiving nature of the sea and the need for all beachgoers to be aware of the dangers of ocean swimming, even on a patrolled beach.
Notes by Janet Bell