1. ITV Report

Coastguards to be awarded after saving colleagues' life

Coastguards saved the life of their colleague during a training exercise Photo: ITV Meridian

Five coastguards will be awarded for saving the life of a teammate on Avon Beach in Christchurch.

Matthew Lees, a volunteer for the coastguard, suffered a cardiac arrest during a training exercise last September.

Matthew Lees was saved by his colleagues after falling ill during training Credit: ITV Meridian

Matthew was in a dry suit, being pulled ashore during an exercise in the dark when he fell unconscious.

Coastguard, Marc Reddy said they cut off Matthew's helmet and dry suit to get access to his chest before conducting CPR on him for 17 minutes.

Coastguards saved their colleague after he fell ill during training at Avon Beach Credit: ITV Meridian

We didn't know whether we could save him, but we fought hard. It was the longest 17 minutes of my life."

– Marc Reddy, Coastguard

Coastguard Area Commander, Tom Wright said he knew it was a life threatening situation and that he needed to get down there as soon as possible because one of his "guys were in deep trouble".

Matthew said he felt no pain when he was revived, but was confused because he thought he had just fainted.

  • Richard Slee interviewed Matthew Lees about how he felt after he was revived
  • Interview: Tom Wright, Coastguard Area Commander

I'm quite proud of the fact that we're the guys that train them how to deal with the first aid protocols and the rescue protocols. So keeping in mind that actually, exercise or training can turn to rescue in the blink of an eye. Do you know what? They did so well!

– Tom Wright, Coastguard Area Commander

Matthew spent a week recovering in hospital and has two stents to fix his undiagnosed heart condition.

Matthew is now back on duty as a volunteer member of the coastguard.

  • Click to watch Richard Slee's full report: