Survival Skills Save Sophie

One of our students has credited survival training she learnt at Comet Bay College with saving her life during a terrifying boating accident on Australia Day.

Twelve-year-old Sophie Sharman was enjoying a day on the water with family and friends when the boat she was a passenger in capsized in waters off Port Kennedy.

Sophie was tangled in ropes and fishing gear and unable to swim free after her friends.

The Year 8 student said it was the most terrifying experience of her life.

“I was thinking this was the moment I was going to die,” Sophie recalled.

“Instead, I kept my head strong and tried not to panic before thinking about where I could go.”

Sophie managed to find an air pocket where she sheltered, gathered her courage and tried a second, unsuccessful attempt to free herself from the wreck.

Mother Melissa Sharman said this was the moment Sophie’s fight or flight training saved her.

“Thankfully, her fight ignited, she kept her head and thought of what she needed to do in this situation,” Mrs Sharman said.

“She found a small air pocket, took a breath, observed what another did, decided what she needed to do and tried that. When she couldn’t follow her friend out, she knew she had to go back to her air pocket, take another breathe and think again.”

Sophie was eventually able to free herself, with only a fish hook injury to show for her ordeal.

She said specialised survival training, taught through Comet Bay College’s RISK program, gave her the skills to remain calm, not give up and look for other ways to help herself.

Program coordinator Brianna Player said RISK, an acronym for Resilience Impartation through Survival Knowledge, developed a range of life skills for students, including resilience, confidence, communication and perseverance.

She said Sophie’s training had been put to the ultimate test on Australia Day.

“It was difficult to hear about this event and what Sophie went through, but it was so reassuring to me that the training she had learnt and the skills she acquired over the last year helped her to stay calm in a frightening situation,” Ms Player said.

“We are all relieved Sophie was not injured and it has highlighted the importance of teaching our students the real-world skills we learn in RISK.”

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