Patient Story -

Unconscious lifesaver saved by CareFlight

What began as a carefree day at South Stradbroke beach with mates almost ended in tragedy for surfer Ben Goodwin.

Although the 23-year-old works as a life-guard on the Gold Coast, he never thought he would be the one being rescued from the surf.

“We arrived at Straddie with a couple of friends, just like any other day,” he said. “The conditions were really good for Straddie, there was a two meter swell and the tide was right - we were really pumped.”

“We were having a great time and then the next thing I remember is everything went black,” he said.

Ben had been knocked hard in the back of the head with his board and knocked completely unconscious. His friends watched in horror as their friend came scarily close to losing his life.

“I remember the wave I took was about two meters, and I remember taking the drop and my mates told me later that the board crunched me right in the back of the head and I took the full force of the wave. I blanked out on impact.”

Ben then fell, unconscious, to the bottom of the ocean. As another big set rolled in, his mates noticed that he hadn’t resurfaced and his board was ‘tomb-stoning’.

“When my mates got to me, I was still out cold and had been underwater for a long time already at that point. They started yelling for help in all directions. Another big wave came and they lost hold of me again. They managed to find me and about five or six guys carried me to the shore,” he said.

“I was submerged for ten minutes all up and my body was full of water. I don’t remember much but I began to regain consciousness just as I was told CareFlight were on their way. I was still very out of it but it was a huge relief and I was at ease knowing I was going to be in good hands,” he said.

Soon after the CareFlight chopper landed on the beach, the Paramedics attended to Ben for almost two hours before they were satisfied he was stable enough to be airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital.

CareFlight Paramedic Jaye Newton said Ben is an extremely lucky young man to be alive. “It could have been so much worse,” he said. “He was incredibly lucky to survive that day.”

Ben said that although the flight from South Stradbroke to Gold Coast Hospital was short, the service is so important to people who surf in isolated locations.

“CareFlight is so unbelievably important because of how remote Straddie is. We can surf safe knowing that if we do get into trouble, CareFlight will be there. The doctors and paramedics are so well respected and you know you’re in good hands when they’re there,” he said.

Ben spent two nights and three days in Gold Coast Hospital as his lungs were badly damaged. But he was out on the water as soon as he was well enough.

“I had a week off to recover before my first session back – which was funnily enough at South Stradbroke,” he said. “It was a slow recovery but I’m great now with no lasting effects.”

“Thanks to all the paramedics and the guys involved in my rescue. I might not be here today if it weren’t for them.”