Divers in distress off Coalcliff prompt mass emergency response

Two scuba divers reportedly in distress off the northern Illawarra coast prompted a mass response from emergency services on Saturday afternoon.

Police, paramedics, after-hours Surf Life Saving crews and a NSW Ambulance rescue helicopter responded to the incident, following reports of divers in difficulty at the northern end of the Sea Cliff Bridge at Coalcliff. 

Surf Life Saving Illawarra (SLSI) duty officer Craig Zulian was alerted to the unfolding emergency about 1.30pm.

A number of Surf Life Saving assets – including Coledale surf club’s inflatable rescue boat (IRB) and support operations crews on jet skis from Coledale and Coalcliff – were tasked to the incident.

After a search offshore, the divers were located by emergency services and life saving crews.

The Mercury understands four divers were spearfishing in the area at the time.

All of them were assessed by paramedics at the scene, with one taken to Wollongong Hospital for further assessment. 

The hospitalised diver is understood to have swallowed an amount of water.

Anthony Turner, from SLSI, praised the after-hours crews for their prompt response, saying they were on the water within 15 minutes of being called to the incident.

“They were lightning fast,” Mr Turner said.

The rescue helicopter was tasked from Bankstown Airport but was called off before it reached the scene.

Meanwhile, Mr Turner reminded swimmers the only patrolled beach in the Wollongong local government area during winter was at North Wollongong.

North Wollongong beach has flags up between 9am and 4pm, seven days a week.