By ANN-MARIE MAY
A NEAR-drowning at Diggers Beach over the weekend has renewed lifeguard Greg Hackfath's call for surveillance towers on our beaches.
A Coffs Harbour male, 22, was surfing in the southern corner of Diggers Beach on Saturday when witnesses noticed him floating face down in the water.
Lucky for him, three nearby board riders, Nathan Snow-James, Matt Fowler and Dylan Greenhill, went to his rescue and pulled him to shore.
Once on the beach, lifeguards David Kitching and Jody Pehrson took control of the situation, administering CPR.
A spokesperson for the NSW Ambulance said, when arriving at the scene they continued CPR, managing to get a faint pulse going again.
"He was taken to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital in a critical condition," the spokesperson said.
Yesterday afternoon he was reported as being in a stable condition.
Mr Hackfath, senior lifeguard with Coffs Harbour City Council, said while it wasn't yet clear what happened in the water, what was clear was the desperate need for towers.
"It is a classic example of where the towers would have been worth their weight in gold," Mr Hackfath said.
And while praising the board riders who went to the man's rescue, he said they couldn't be relied upon for all incidents.
"They (board riders) are always rescuing people and do a top job of it ? but it isn't their job," he said. "They are out there to surf and can't be expected to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing. The towers are vital."
Mr Hackfath said Saturday's near-tragedy proved the importance of surveillance.
"Surveillance is the key to preventing accidents like this weekend's, and the towers make surveillance so much easier."