Coastguards receive honour for rescue of eight-year-old girl
Volunteers are being honoured for saving the life of an eight-year-old girl found in the Manukau Harbour.
Coastguard units from Papakura, Waiuku, Titirangi and Auckland Air Patrol were given the Rescue of the Year accolade at the recent Coastguard Northern Region Awards.
The rescue took place in April after fishermen spotted a 12-foot aluminum boat adrift in the Papakura Channel. A search effort was called and Coastguard units launched into action.
Coastguard Papakura volunteers were first on the water at around 5.30pm and learned there were two people on the boat - a father and his young daughter.
Papakura Rescue One, a large high-speed vessel, and Papakura Rescue Two, a smaller boat that can get into shallow water, were dispatched.
More than 20 other Coastguard volunteers took part in the search which included vessels from Waiuku and Titirangi and a Coastguard Air Patrol plane based at Ardmore.
Police and a hovercraft from airport crash rescue also took part.
The sun had set and a light mist made visibility even more difficult when those aboard Papakura Rescue One heard a cry for help in the darkness.
The girl was found about 7.30pm and was pulled from the water wearing a black t-shirt and no life jacket.
She had been bravely treading water for around four hours.
The team got her aboard, wrapped her in blankets and coordinated with the hovercraft which took her to a waiting ambulance ashore.
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Coastguard teams continued searching for the father over the next 24 hours before being stood down by police. His body was found several days later.
Coastguard operations manager Ray Burge has praised the efforts of all those involved.
"The speed at which all the units were able to flawlessly coordinate and find the girl in the trying conditions, and the professionalism with which they all got on with an emotionally charged and urgent search, meant the Rescue of the Year Award was well deserved," he says.
The awards are presented to dedicated Coastguard volunteers across the region from Raglan to Thames and up to Houhora in the Far North.
This year the rescuers have put in 135,723 hours and helped 4139 boaties home to safety.
Coastguard receives about 15 per cent of its annual budget from the Government and relies on fundraising and public donations for the remainder.