A PARAMEDIC from Chepstow who saved the life of a girl while off-duty at the beach with his family has been recognised.

Gino Matrella, 60, from Portskewett, was enjoying a day out at Porthcawl beach with his family in July when a friend spotted two teenage boys dragging a young girl out of the sea.

Mr Matrella ran down to the shore where he assessed the girl, who had been sucked underwater.


“I asked the boys to lay her down flat on her back away from the water so I could begin checking her vital signs,” he said.

“I noticed her pulse was very slow and her breathing wasn’t there and thought, ‘we are in serious trouble here’.

“Luckily she brought up some clear fluid, which is a good sign.”

Mr Matrella shouted for the lifeguard and for an ambulance to be called.

He said: “I really needed some equipment there and the lifeguard arrived quickly with some oxygen.

“As I moved her up the beach, she was still not conscious but her pupils were beginning to contract to a normal diameter.

“I remember trying to keep her warm and monitor very closely her vital signs, which thankfully were returning.

“When my colleagues arrived, I went to comfort the girl’s mother who was naturally very upset and explained to her what was happening and that her daughter was improving.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team’s Robert Huish, who was the first on-duty medic to arrive, said: “Gino had done a lot of the hard work and when we arrived we had all the right tools to do the job.

“The family were very lucky that day that Gino was in the right place at the right time.

“It was such a simple accident but no matter how calm water looks it is always unpredictable, powerful and relentless.”

Mr Matrella has now been presented with a Chief Executive’s Commendation for his actions by the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Jason Killens.

“Our frontline staff are never really off-duty,” said Mr Killens.

“Whilst enjoying precious time with his own family, Gino instinctively stepped in to help another family and his years of experience helped achieve the best outcome for the young girl.

“I am always proud of our staff and enjoy recognising our staff with a commendation when such extraordinary events occur.”

On accepting his commendation, Mr Matrella said: “I am happy to accept this recognition and wish to pay tribute to all my colleagues who attended that day.

“It was a bit of a blur, but dealing with situations like this is not out of the ordinary for me.

“But, it remains absolutely vital that members of the public are aware of CPR and even how to use a defibrillator for when emergencies occur in public or at work.”