A surfing holiday in the Maldives last August could have resulted in certain death for a fellow Australian surfer if it wasn't for the quick thinking and Navy training by Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer Roger Roy, Sports Officer at Fleet Base West.
While relaxing aboard a surfing charter vessel north of the Malé Atolls, Chief Petty Officer Roy spotted their surfing guide Dave Beasley fall awkwardly off his surfboard and struggle to resurface.
Chief Petty Officer Roy immediately sensed that something was wrong, climbed on a long-board and paddled out to the stricken surfer.
“I saw Dave bent in half, head down in chest deep water. I jumped off the board, went under and got his leg rope off. In the same motion, I scooped him up under his left armpit and rolled him over. I was able to stand on the reef, right on the edge,” said Chief Petty Officer Roy.
Despite the extremely difficult conditions, Navy training kicked in. Chief Petty Officer Roy checked all vital signs and with the support of mates on the charter boat, Petty Officer Physical Trainer Nathan Adamson, Royal Australian Air Force Corporal Ben Wilkie and Vincentia High School teacher Jerry Brown, Chief Petty Officer Roy commenced cardio vascular resuscitation (CPR).
They feared the worst for their mate. Dave had been unconscious for about ten minutes they estimated and he had suffered severe head lacerations.
They eventually managed to flag down a vessel from another surf charter company, enabling the delivery of more effective CPR. Luckily a doctor was aboard as a guest and treated Dave with the medical care required until he was evacuated to hospital.
Chief Petty Officer Roy was reassured when he heard that Dave had managed to start breathing after some 6-8 minutes of frantic CPR from Mr Brown and Corporal Wilkie.
“I have replayed the whole scenario over and over, and I'm stoked that I was back on the boat and in that position to react.
“It happened so quickly and I don't think there is anything else I could have done differently,” he said.
“I have received a lot of training over my 21 years in the Navy, which in hindsight does prepare you for these situations.
“It was a massive team effort where everyone involved knew exactly what to do and I'm so thankful he is alive and it's not the other way around,” Chief Petty Officer Roy said.
The episode still remains vivid in Dave Beasley’s memory too. A surfer since he was a young child, Dave travels from his home at Coolum Beach, Queensland, to some of the top surfing destinations around the world where he works as a surfing guide.
“We were out on a really low tide in fairly shallow area on the reef with a two metre swell. I pulled into a barrel and the waves dumped on me and I hit my head,” he recalled.
“It was a freakish situation. Just goes to show that these things can happen even to the most experienced surfer.
“Without the Navy guys, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
The focus for Chief Petty Officer Roy and the other members of Navy’s Surf Riders Association is now fixed firmly towards the Inter-Service Surfing Championships to be held in May 2015 at Ulladulla on NSW's south coast.