Big honour for Jimmy's selfless act
HERO lifeguard James 'Jimmy' Cervi has received national recognition for 'Rescue of the Month' after pulling a semi-conscious woman from monstrous, cyclone-induced swells at Noosa Main Beach in February.
The 26-year-old, who works stints up and down the coast at Rainbow Beach, Noosa and Double Island Point, was off duty when he saved Stevi Everson, 24, after she and her father fell from their jet ski into rough weekend conditions at Granite Bay.
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Mr Cervi will make his first trip to Canberra in June for the official presentation, as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving ceremony.
After previously saying the rescue was the "craziest thing" he'd ever experienced, Mr Cervi said he was "a little bit surprised" to receive the honour.
"I'm glad to accept it, things could've been pretty pear-shaped," he said.
"I thought about the rescue a lot in the first week after it happened, but not much now.
"I just take it on the chin and go on with life, as you do."
There was a sense of premonition in the air before that fateful day for the veteran guard, who said he turned down an offer to go surfing at the Great Barrier Reef due to "weird energies" telling him to stay back.
"I was feeling a bit off that week with the big swell around.
"It felt like all the energies were drawing me to that place at that time."
Mr Cervi said the opportunity to debrief the incident with Ms Everson, as well as his two younger brothers and fellow lifeguards Thomas and Hayden, had made it easier to move on.
He described Ms Everson as a "strong, confident girl", and pointed to those traits as key factors in how she survived her brush with death and took it in her stride afterwards.
Rainbow Beach Senior Lifeguard Liam Toohey said he was still in awe of Mr Cervi's save, but wasn't surprised when he found out.
"If anyone could do it, it's Jimmy," he said.
"Knowing Jimmy, he would've just gone straight in. That whole family is great in the water.
"A guard down south said it was the best rescue he'd ever seen.
"We all would've jumped in, but I'm not sure it would've turned out the same as it did with Jimmy."
"She [Stevi] was lucky it was Jimmy.
Mr Toohey said the rescue was of a calibre not often seen or achieved by lifeguards.
"He jumped into a position to risk his own life while copping 6-8ft waves to the head, holding a semi-conscious patient above the water.
"He was always concerned about saving the patient, he pushed her up the cliff first.
"Jimmy's a legend, he's really selfless, that's how his parents raised him, he's a credit to the service and ultimately Australia."
Mr Toohey said there's a "mutual respect" between the two, who have occasionally worked together at Rainbow for the last three years.
Mr Cervi also goes in the running for a Meritorius Award, to be announced as part of Surf Life Saving Australia's National Awards of Excellence in October.