The warm, sunny almost windless day, and a cobalt blue sea with gentle waves lapping the shore could not have offered a more inviting sight to a group of tourists just off their tourist bus on Saturday afternoon. Shedding their clothes as they crossed the beach, some running, some walking, others stumbling on the soft sand as the hurried to the inviting sea. Before any word of warning could be called they were waist deep in the freezing ocean.
Three gents were a little more adventurous and in no time were near the backline. One, possibly sensing danger or motivated by the cold water, immediately headed back to shore but in the blink of an eye the other two could be seen to be fighting the current (rip). As they started battling their way to shore a wave crashed over the man farthest out and he was left lying face down and motionless in the surf.
Witnessing their stress from the beach a local man had already stared rushing into the surf and was able to reach the stricken man within seconds. With the assistance of the other man who was close by they were able to get his head above water and drag him towards shore. Other bathers then assisted the two rescuers and were able to pull the man safely onto the beach.
The man was not breathing at this point and showing signs of cyanosis (blueish skin). The local man immediately started rudimentary CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation and the man’s pallor improved slightly after a few minutes but he remained semi-conscious and non-responsive. Fortunately a doctor travelling with the group was on the beach and arrived to render treatment within a few minutes to take over the resuscitation.
No one in the growing crowd had a cell phone but five youngsters who had been swimming close by managed to raise the alarm with staff at the nearby resort who called a local doctor who had been enjoying his Saturday afternoon game of tennis, and paramedics. The patient was stabilized on the beach and carried off the beach to the waiting ambulance in a stable condition and transported by ambulance to Greenacres hospital in Port Elizabeth.
The good news is that the gentleman has fully recovered and will rejoin the tour none the worse for wear but a little more aware in the dangers of the ocean.
Just because it looks calm doesn’t mean it is without dangers. Always make sure with the lifeguards or locals if none are available, if it is safe to swim before venturing into unknown waters. .