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Passing rescue chopper saves paddle pair

TWO paddlers had a lucky escape when they got into difficulty in big seas off Wurtulla yesterday morning.

The man and woman were believed to be trying to paddle from Caloundra to Mooloolaba, one on an outrigger and the other on a surf ski, when they struck problems about 10.30am.

SLSQ Sunshine Coast duty officer Kirsten Phillips said the pair were about 700 metres offshore when they were thrown into the water.

"Only by good luck our rescue helicopter was going past at the time and saw they were in serious trouble," she said.

"They were so far out, no one could see them from shore and only the presence of the helicopter saved them."

A crew member from the SLSQ Westpac Rescue Helicopter was lowered down to the pair and they were lifted to Wurtulla Beach where they were treated by an ambulance crew.

A spokesman for Emergency Management Queensland said both had swallowed a lot of water and the woman had suffered a blow to the head. She was taken to hospital for treatment.

The large swell caused a number of problems for lifesavers, with the rescue helicopter called in again later in the day when a rescue at Caloundra took a nasty turn.

Ms Phillips said an IRB crew had gone to help a kite-surfer in trouble on the Caloundra Bar but the kite's ropes became tangled in the boat's propeller.

The helicopter hovered overhead while the crew untangled the rope and rescued the kite surfer.

One of the lifesavers was taken to hospital for stitches when he cut his hand badly during the drama.

"Conditions are becoming very dangerous along the coast because of the big swell," Ms Phillips said.

"People really need to be experienced before they head out kayaking, kite surfing or any activity offshore," she said.

"Even if they are experienced, they need to have a plan and make sure people know where they are going.

"We could have had a tragedy today if the rescue helicopter wasn't in the right place at the right time."

Topics:  rescue, westpac rescue helicopter




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