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Newquay lifeboat volunteer Duncan Wallace helps save life of surfer in Sri Lanka

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

Duncan Wallace (far right) on RNLI duty

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A Newquay lifeboat volunteer interrupted his Sri Lankan honeymoon to help save the life of a man who had been seriously injured in a surfing accident.

Duncan Wallace, 42, is a partner in Newquay Water Sports Centre which operates from the harbour, runs The Hillcrest surf lodge in the town, and is on 24-hour call as an RNLI volunteer.

He was in Sri Lanka with his new wife Liz when the dramatic incident took place.

Duncan had already been for an early-morning surf three days before the end of their fortnight’s honeymoon in the country and had returned to the beach hut for breakfast with his wife when he heard a man shouting for help from the water.

Duncan said: "Looking from the shore, the man did not appear to be in too much trouble, but when I reached him in the white water amongst the reefs I saw that he had in fact suffered serious injuries after being struck by his surfboard.

"His left eye was hanging down on his cheek, out of its socket, and he was losing blood from a head wound."

The nose of the surfboard had struck the man’s head and left strands of fibreglass embedded in the wound.

The Israeli surfer, who was in his early 20’s and only spoke a few words of English, was lapsing in and out of consciousness as Duncan towed him into shallower water and hauled him up onto the beach, where he sought help from his wife Liz, who brought Duncan’s first aid kit from their hut.

Speaking back home in Newquay, Duncan said: "At the start of our honeymoon my wife had asked why I had taken up space in our luggage with a first aid kit, but I have always carried one on surf trips."

Further help arrived from onlookers as Duncan applied dressings and bandaging to the man’s wounds to prevent further blood loss and protect his displaced eye.

A plank of wood was used as an impromptu stretcher and the man was taken to the local hospital, 25 miles away, on the back of a tuk-tuk (motorised rickshaw) by a young Australian doctor who was on a training placement in the area.

The man spent five days in hospital and doctors were able to save his vision.

A RNLI spokesman said: "Like all of the charity’s 4,600 volunteer crew members nationwide, Duncan devotes a lot of his own time to attend RNLI first aid training and refreshers, including a course at the lifeboat station last year which was carried out two nights per week over six weeks."

Duncan added: "The RNLI’s casualty care training is first class and definitely made a difference on this occasion. And my wife agreed it had been a good job I’d brought my first aid kit with us on honeymoon!"

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