A Heroic Tale - A Big Day Of Rescues

By B18 | B18 | 26 Mar 2022

Given what is happening in Europe. With the talk of heroes and Flags replacing Laser eyes on Twitter. I though it might be the time to retell this heroic tale.

Scarboro SLSC

I spend a lot of my time at the beach. In particular Scarborough Beach, Perth, Western Australia. I like to run barefoot down to the beach and along the foreshore. When I get to Scarborough Beach, I do 750 to 1000 steps, some times more. Gets the heart going and then cool down by catching a few body surfing waves.

The stairs lead from the Scarboro Surf Life Saving Club up to the promenade. Under the stairs is a room which has on the windows a tribute to a day that the SLSC will never forget.


October 2011

It was a scorching spring Sunday and an ominous swell was rolling onto Perth's coastline, creating treacherous conditions for the public and stretching Scarboro SLSC's resources to the limit. A day that the Scarboro SLSC will never forget.

SLSC members arrived  at the club early on the morning of 16 October 2011 preparing themselves and their equipment for what was expected to be, given the forecast, a patrol that would be busier than normal. How much busier, no one could have predicted.

With the first series of rescues being performed before 9:00 am, and more and more swimmers arriving by the busload, everyone was beginning to appreciate the gravity of the situation. An urgent call for volunteer support was put out to all Scarboro SLSC members, the Wesfarmers Emergency Response team and SLSWA Support Operations Team, the majority of which at the time were also Scarboro SLSC members.


Whilst additional support was being mobilised to the club, the conditions were intensifying. More and more people were arriving at the beach, the sun was getting hotter and the swell was increasing. The conditions and the resulting volume of rescues were becoming untenable. Scarboro members endured non-stop rescues, first aids and preventative actions in truly challenging conditions. A task they were performing admirably but quickly becoming overwhelmed.

The support crews arrived and quickly began to mobilise. With the added support, the patrol saw its strength increase to a total of three jetskis, four IRBs and plenty of talented members ready to provide relief or assistance where possible. By this point the conditions were dire. The influx of swimmers had continued , the beach was now laden with thousands upon thousands of people on the sand with a further thousand in the water.

Needless to say as soon as the powercraft hit the water, they were hard-pressed by continuous and challenging rescues. Other club members, new bronze medallion holders and even junior surf rescue certificate holders entered the water en masse with boards and tubes to aid swimmers until they were able to carried back to shore.

Still, other members lined the shore to help exhausted swimmers escape the trough, many of who were dropped off by jetskis, IRBs and boards, who simply did not have time to beach their craft. These swimmers were then passed onto other members waiting to provide first aid and oxygen therapy as needed, who then transferred them to the first aid room and a fleet of waiting ambulances.

In the surf, the conditions were harrowing with constant flash rips that swept anywhere from 10 to 30 swimmers out at any one time. The water was densely packed with swimmers across the entire Scarborough foreshore. The jetski operators, IRB drivers and crews, and board paddlers had limited room to move, whilst at the same time having to navigate the massive surf and back wash. The only reprieve came from the regular occurrence of the of the evacuation alarm signalling mass rescues. This forced the majority of the able bodied swimmers to exit the water affording the power craft and board paddlers room to rescue the desperate swimmers that remained stuck in the surf.

On the beach, conditions were frantic. The sand was packed with people and the club vehicles required escorts to move beachgoers out of the way to allow the continuous stream of exhausted and injured swimmers to be ferried to from the water to the first aid room or waiting ambulances. The club education and training room became a triage  centre for the many exhausted casualties. Oxygen cylinder supplies were running low and St John Ambulance was enlisted to provide additional supplies. At one stage there were six ambulances in the club car park queuing to take casualties to hospital. St John Ambulance paramedics even came down onto the sand to work alongside our members to assess casualties on the beach.

Despite the chaos of the day, every member who arrived at the beach jumped straight into a role. All members ultimately proved invaluable in forming what resulted in an efficient and structured system of rescue, triage and treatment. The result of which was inspiring.

At 6:00pm, when the members pulled the patrol off the beach at the end of that gruelling day, some two hours after the official end of the patrol, the numbers were astounding

470 rescues, with no lives lost.

If the rescues from the Wesfarmers Emergency Response Team and SLSWA Support Operations Team are included, the total number of swimmers rescued at Scarboro Beach that day would surpass 670.

This amazing picture was captured by Michael Wilson from the West Australian Newspaper. It shows the chaos and frenzy of that day and Scarboro SLSC members using their skills, experience and courage on jetskis, IRBs, rescue boards and tubes to aid desperate swimmers as they fought to stay afloat in a fast-moving flash rip.

This extraordinary day encapsulated the club motto - We strive to maintain a Self-imposed Service" and demonstrates the essence of what we do as volunteers and have done since our club was established in 1928.


Every time I am at the beach and read that story I get goose bumps.

2011 and I was living across the road from the Surf Club. Didn't even know that this had occurred. I was working FiFo and spent more time up north in the Pilbara than at the beach. 

It was not until we moved back to Scarbs and I started doing the stairs as part of my exercise regime that I became aware of that Big Day of Rescues.

I took 8 photos to capture all the words. The story is written over the top of the Michael Wilson photograph plus you have the reflection of the Woodside Nippers enjoying their Sunday Sausage Sizzle. Tried in vain to find any reference to this Heroic Day, so I could add some authentic pixs. The Scarboro SLSC Facebook and Instagram only goes back a couple of years.


So here is a pix from their Instagram to give you an idea what a small wave is like in a IRB. I was once taken out by members of the Maketu SLSC in big surf and it scared the shit of me. Not sure what was worse, the going up the face or the jump over the top and the long drop. My legs were sore for a week.






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I am a sun sea and sand person, chocolatier, grows organic vegetables, rides a Vespa and collects crypto.


Bought our 1st pieces of BTC, July 2017. The process was daunting and confusing. Could easily given up & put it in the too hard basket or have fallen victim to one of the many scams or pitfalls. Grateful to a friend of my son's, who had been in this space for awhile, giving me some good advice & steering me in the right direction. That experience has helped shape my desire to share what I learn. Also always had a morbid fascination with Snake Oil Salesman & their sales pitch; Bitconnect, USI Tech..

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