Three people were saved in a dramatic rescue from the surf at Lennox Head last night.

Shortly after 6.30pm yesterday, a young girl visiting the area from Katherine in the Northern Territory was playing in shallow water when she was knocked off her feet.

She was unable to regain her footing and was taken out in a powerful rip.

The girl’s father, 33 years, also from Katherine, and her aunt, 27, from Toowoomba, Qld, went to the girl’s aid but they were caught in the same rip and got into difficulties.

Another member of the family went to their assistance and was able to rescue the woman with the aid of a surfboard.  

A middle-aged man walking on the beach saw the group in trouble and stripped off and swam out to assist the group who were now some 100 metres off shore.

He found the girl trying to support her father in helping him stay afloat and keep his head above the surface.

The rescuer was able to bring the child and her father back to shore. 

Other beach-walkers ran to a group of off-duty lifeguards who were training further down the beach and raised the alarm.

Along with volunteer surf-lifesavers from the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club, the lifeguards responded to the scene with resuscitation and emergency equipment as well as activating emergency services.

Surf rescue vehicles from Ballina and Lennox Head attended the scene as well as three ambulances from Byron Bay and Ballina as well as the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

An off-duty ambulance paramedic on holidays in the area assisted the lifeguards in stabilising the three patients who were all treated for immersion.  

All three remained on oxygen and were placed in a lifeguard rescue vehicle and transported to Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club where they were met by ambulances.

They were transported to Ballina Hospital in a stable condition.

“I applaud the efforts of the members of the family and the public who rescued this group,” said Stephen Leahy, Northern NSW Lifeguard Co-ordinator.

“They have shown great courage, considering the conditions and their efforts have certainly saved three lives.

“I also want to recognise the quick response by the off-duty lifeguards and surf-lifesavers. 

“Their rapid treatment will ensure that this family will make a full recovery.  

“The surf club always makes certain that their equipment is ready to respond at any time day or night and it has certainly paid off.”

According to lifeguards, the conditions at the time were considered hazardous with large waves and powerful rips right along Seven Mile Beach.