AN instinctive reaction by two good Samaritans has helped to save the life of a man who was pulled unconscious from the waters of Kiama's Storm Bay on Wednesday.
The man, aged in his 60s, was spearfishing in the bay at around 8.45am on Wednesday, when his companion noticed he had become unresponsive in the water and dragged him on to nearby rocks.
Kiama Surf Club member John Collie was on his regular morning walk when he saw the man being pulled from the water and quickly provided assistance.
"I was walking along with my wife like we do every day, I saw two ladies pointing down into Storm Bay, I looked down to see what they were looking at, at first I could only see the buoy in the water but then I saw the man lying on the rocks and the other diver helping him," Mr Collie said.
"Another bloke was going down and I said to my wife that I was as well. We both got there at the same time and started to work on him."
Having been in a similar situation before, Mr Collie knew how serious the situation was.
"This was the second time I've been in a situation like that . . . I've worked in coalmines and done a lot of first aid and some things you don't forget," he said.
"When we got down there he was in trouble. Two minutes later and I think he would have needed professionals rather than us to help him. He'd gone blue, the other bloke and I moved him on to his side and started chest compressions, he was bringing up blood so we couldn't do CPR," Mr Collie said.
Lifeguards also worked on him until paramedics arrived
"I yelled out to get somebody to call triple-0," Mr Collie said.
"The ambulance probably took 10 minutes or so to get there so we just kept up the compressions and trying to keep his airway clear."
The NSW Ambulance rescue helicopter was called to the scene, but the man was stretchered out by SES volunteers and taken by ambulance to Wollongong Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
"The man had a medical condition while diving and got into some trouble," Sergeant Chris Warren from Lake Illawarra Local Area Command said.
"Some passers-by raised the alarm and provided assistance and he has been taken to Wollongong Hospital."
The incident occurred during a 24-hour period in which NSW Ambulance Service responded to 12 incidents of either drowning or near-drowning, which had prompted the service to encourage people to brush up on their first-aid skills.