A family day by the lake would have ended in tragedy if not for the lifesaving actions of three brothers now recognised for their bravery.
Moments after saving a young boy struggling to stay above water in 2018, brothers Michael, Peter and Tim Lendrum rushed back into Sydney’s Narrabeen Lagoon to find the boy’s seven-year-old sister.
The girl had drifted about 20 metres from the shore and sunk nearly two metres below the surface.
“I found her with my feet,” six-foot-five Peter said of his wading shoulder-height through murky waters.
Once ashore, Tim and another man, Mathew Savage, began CPR on the girl’s lifeless and pale body as the others called for help.
Mr Savage said the first compression was like pushing water out of a bag, with each push forcing water and seaweed from her mouth.
“I remember looking up and there’s vomit and seaweed all over Tim’s face, but he went straight back and continued doing recovery breaths,” he told AAP.
“We just assumed that she was dead, but we had to just keep going until the ambulance told us to stop,” Tim said.
Their efforts paid off.
“I distinctly remember getting the pulse and thinking that shouldn’t be there,” Tim said.
“I reached up and checked my own pulse, and it was about three times what hers was, so I knew it wasn’t the same pulse.”
Mr Savage described how the girl went from a “very dark, horrible purple colour” to regaining splotches of pink.
Beset with mental and physical exhaustion, the pair left after six ambulances arrived.
“All I wanted was a coke and a shower. It wasn’t very pleasant, but the outcome was worth it,” Tim said.
Both children made full recoveries thanks to the quick actions of their saviours, who are among a group of 13 community heroes and 10 NSW police officers recognised for their lifesaving actions at the NSW Royal Life Saving Commendation ceremony on Friday.
The award, held at the NSW Governor’s residence, acknowledges those who display outstanding initiative, expertise and empathy towards others by applying lifesaving skills in emergency situations, sometimes at their own risk.
Governor Margaret Beazley reiterated the importance of updating lifesaving skills on the back of the pandemic.
“Too many lives have been – and will be lost – as a result,” she said.
It’s the first time since 2018 the awards have been held, due to COVID-19, with Royal Life Saving NSW considering almost 100 nominations for incidents over the four-year period.
With the most basic skills, people can turn a moment of chaos into something that is celebrated, Royal Life Saving NSW chief executive Michael Ilinsky told AAP at the ceremony.
“It can be anybody and everybody that can be a community lifesaver. It’s not necessarily those ones that wear badges and uniforms.”
Michael Lendrum said the award wasn’t the end goal for his heroic actions.
“You do it because that’s what anyone would do, but it’s a good piece of closure to move on from as well.”
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