RAINBOW RESCUE: 'He looked like he was dead'
A QUICK-THINKING bodyboarder who kept an unconscious man afloat in the Rainbow Beach surf has described the harrowing ordeal as it unfolded at the popular beach today.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said the incident unfolded in "like a minute" on the crowded beach.
"His wife was there trying to hold his head out of the water," he said.
He said the man, aged in his 50s, "looked like he was dead" at first, eventually spitting up water and "wheezing".
He was pulled still breathing from the water just after 11am.
Another witness said the man had been dumped by a wave right before the incident, and a young boy raised the alarm with the beach's lifeguards.
Onlookers scrambled to help, including the bodyboarder who used the device to help keep the man afloat.
Although it was the second time in his life he had saved someone in the water, the bodyboarder downplayed his own efforts before lifeguards took control.
"I didn't do much," he said.
"It all happened pretty quickly."
Emergency services treated the man on the beach, and he was stable and conscious when taken to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital by the RACQ LifeFlight helicopter.
It mars what is shaping up to be a good holiday season at the popular tourist town.
Lifeguard Joe McGettigan, who is spending his first summer season at Rainbow, said aside from some possible blue bottle incursions "nothing crazy is on the way" ahead of an expected southerly change.
For those eager to cool off from the summer sun, he said the most well-known advice still stood true.
"Make sure you stay between the flags," he said.
"The closer you are to us the quicker we can rescue you."
The surf conditions board was another important point of contact.
"Be sure you read the board and if you have any questions please ask the lifeguards," he said.
Mr McGettigan urged those headed to Double Island Point to take care on the way up.