TODAY Amber Collins is back in class at Orange High School with her friends and teachers probably unaware the humble teenager saved the life of a seven-year-old boy in treacherous surf at Dee Why Beach on Australia Day.
As a member of the Orange Bush Nippers who were at Dee Why Beach as part of an exchange program, Amber was in the passenger seat of a beach patrol vehicle when she spotted a group of people about 30 metres out in trouble.
Amber says her years in the Orange Bush Nippers equipped her well for the situation.
Grabbing a tube from the top of the patrol vehicle, she swam out to the group, heading for a small boy who was unsupported in the water.
“I put him on the tube. He was crying - I said ‘just hold on to me and we will go under the waves together’,” she said.
Amber says around ten waves hit the pair before surf life savers arrived with a board to bring the boy into shore.
“Once when we went under one of the waves his head hit my lip and it started to bleed which scared him - I told him it was alright,” she said.
Amber’s father John Collins, along with Toot Keegan set up the Orange Bush Nippers program several years ago. It gives children positive experiences in the water and helps them build skills through a partnership with the Royal Lifesaving Society and later through Dee Why Nippers exchange.
An emotional Mr Collins said he was helping out with boat maintenance when he heard about the way Amber had responded to the call.
“I am just so proud of her,” he said.
Amber says by the time she got back to shore she was exhausted and the little boy and his family had left the beach area.
But the father of the small boy returned to the beach later to seek out Amber and thank her.
“He started crying and he hugged me,” she said.
Amber, who begins her Year 12 studies today, says she wants to be a paramedic.
If her coolness under pressure on Australia Day during the rescue is any indication, she’s chosen the right career path.
Every Sunday morning the Bush Nippers meet at Orange Aquatic Centre at 9am.