NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys win International Award

NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys win International Award for Innovation and Technology

The NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoys won the 2018 IMRF (International Maritime Rescue Federation) award for Innovation and Technology at a prestigious gala dinner in Norway on Thursday night, 08th November.

NSRI head of Drowning Prevention, Andrew Ingram was present at the awards ceremony as a guest of IMRF to receive the award. Today he is invited to present the South African born campaign to the IMRF Europe’s annual meeting. 

Journalist and author Gordon Drydon once said “An idea is a new combination of old elements.”  The Pink Rescue Buoy project is exactly that.  There is a clear pattern where people are drowning because of a lack of flotation. The typical scenario is that someone is in difficulty in the water and a well meaning bystander goes in to help. Tragically the “helper” is usually the person who may be most likely to drown.

Flotation on beaches were a common site where Life Rings were placed at the waters edge at beaches, swimming pools and canals. But this practice died out.

Concerned about the rate of drowning, NSRI – a search and rescue organisation, stepped forward to initiate a series of preventative campaigns. This new unit is headed by Andrew Ingram.

Rescues world wide use torpedo buoy flotation, these buoys are affordable and effective. The idea was to then make these available as public rescue devises. 

Theft was raised as the biggest challenge when presenting the idea. The concept of a unique colour coupled with the need for them to be highly visible in the surf resulted in the signature luminous pink.

Known drowning hot spots were identified, sponsors were found and a pilot project was launched.

12 months later we have 300 installations around the country, and while theft has hovered between 8 and 18%, most importantly 15 lives have been saved. 

The next step is to make this pervasive across all beaches and beside all water bodies. Through partnerships and community buy-in this is possible.

“It is a great honour for our team which has worked on the Pink Rescue Buoy project over the past year to be recognised by the IMRF, said Andrew Ingram, Head of NSRI Drowning Prevention. The spotlight is now firmly on Public Rescue Devices, and effective rip current education. We hope that this combination will help to reduce rip current and failed peer rescue drownings around the globe”, said Ingram. 

NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys 12 months on

15 people rescued in 12 months as communities embrace the Pink Buoy initiative

In November 2017, NSRI launched the Pink Rescue Buoy programme. The intention is to provide easily accessible emergency flotation at drowning hot spots.

Beaches initially targeted were: Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay, Dappat se Gat, Strand and Monwabisi. As funding came in, more buoys were deployed. To date 300 buoys have been installed around the coastline and at rivers, dams and swimming pools.

One year later NSRI report a resounding success. 15 people have been rescued in a 12 month period.

Not only has the programme gained wide support locally, it has also attracted international interest and this month we attend the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) awards ceremony in Norway, where the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy project is a finalist in the category Innovation and Technology.

Despite initial concern that these buoys would be stolen, for the most part of the year we ran at less than 10% being stolen, peaking at 22% being stolen.  Many of the buoys that had been taken were soon returned, fuelling our belief that awareness and community buy-in are critical to the success of the programme. 

Sadly at Strand Beach we have had repeated theft of buoys at 5 sites along that 2km stretch of coastline (from Mostertsbaai to The Pipe).  Despite local sponsorship and an extensive media and social media campaign, theft of the Pink Buoys in the Strand left us with no other alternative but to withdraw the Pink Rescue Buoys from this area. This was not an easy decision. This is a known drowning hot spot and we remain extremely concerned about this area as the festive season approaches.

The buoys are pink because thats the most visible colour in the surf making them unique to NSRI so if you find one thats not on its pole at the beach you can hand it in at any surf shop, Police Station or call NSRI.

NSRI’s head of Drowning Prevention, Andrew Ingram says:  “We have proven that there is a definite need for these Pink Rescue Buoys. There is no doubt in our mind that this is a project worth investing in. 15 people rescued with the help of a Pink Rescue Buoy in 12 months speaks for itself.”

“The Pink Rescue Buoys are a community initiative, sponsored by the community, for the community. When a community works together the Pink Rescue Buoys remain at their posts, ready for action in the event of an emergency. Just as you would talk to your families about looking both ways before you cross the street, please talk to your families about the Pink Rescue Buoys. Look for one when you get to a beach, and if you see someone carrying one away from the beach, stop them, and explain that a stolen buoy, is a stolen life.” 

Man lost in Surf – Wilderness

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis Bay

The NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following reports of a drowning in progress at Wilderness Main Beach on Friday afternoon 26 October. On arrival on the scene a found local surfer, Phillip Crankshaw, had rescued an adult male British tourist from the surfer after he had been caught in rip currents while swimming.

The man was transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in a stable condition as a precaution for treatment and observations for non-fatal drowning symptoms.

On Saturday the  NSRI Wilderness duty crew were again called out along with  the Western Cape Government Health EMS rescue following reports of a drowning in progress at Lientjies Klip, Wilderness Beach. The sea rescue craft Clemengold Rescuer was launched and an NSRI rescue vehicle, Metro Rescue vehicle and the SA Police Services responded.

On arrival on the scene a search commenced for a 26 year old Oudtshoorn man who was on a day trip to the coast with family and friends. He had gone missing while swimming in the surf. Despite an extensive sea and shoreline search no sign of the missing man has been found and a Police Dive Unit are continuing in an ongoing search operation.

Thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing man in this difficult time.

Police have opened an investigation.

Life Jacket Cell Phone Alerts NSRI

NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were activated on Saturday morning following reports of surf-skiers in difficulty 1 nautical mile off-shore of Main Beach in the vicinity of the Bell Buoy.

The son of a female surf-skier reported that he had received a phone call from his mother who told him that she was adrift at sea off-shore of Main Beach and that she was drifting in the water in her life jacket after losing a surf-ski that had been loaned to her by her friend who was apparently swimming to shore.

The son reported that his mother had been trying to call him for over an hour from a cellphone she found in the life-jacket of her friend who was swimming to shore.

Because the son did not recognise the phone number he had not answered the phone but eventually after over an hour of him being called consistently from the same phone number he answered the phone and it was his mother calling for urgent help claiming to be in serious trouble at sea.

The NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew were at our sea rescue station at the time on routine training and immediately the sea rescue craft JTL Rescuer was launched.

The woman was found in the water in the company of a male surf-skier who claimed to be helping her (using his surf-ski for her to hold onto) but she had no surf-ski with her and she claimed to be swimming to shore and claimed to have loaned her own surf-ski to her fellow female surf-skier who had lost her surf-ski.

She had loaned the surf-ski to her friend to use to try to recover that surf-ski that had drifted away in the wind.

The woman was taken on board our sea rescue craft and she was immediately treated for hypothermia.

In the interim the search began for the missing lady surf-ski  with calls to the cellphone going unanswered .Following an extensive search the woman was found in the water in her life-jacket. She had been in the water for over 2 hours and she was severely hypothermic.
She was brought on board the rescue vessel and treatment for severe hypothermia was administered whilst they were taken to the NSRI base.

EC Government Health EMS were activated and both ladies were transported to hospital by ambulance and the one lady was released later and the lady who had been severely hypothermic was kept in hospital overnight.

Both surf-skis washed up later in the afternoon 10 nautical miles South and both surf-skis have been recovered.

It is believed that the two women were taking part in a time trial qualifying for a race when one of them fallen out of her surf-ski. A whale breached apparently breached close to them and in the confusion her surf-ski drifted away from them. Her friend being a strong swimmer, loaned her surf-ski apparently for her to use that surf-ski to try to recover the surf-ski that had blown away from them in the wind, and she had opted to swim to shore.

It is just by chance that she found her friends cellphone in the life- and it was just by chance that her son answered the phone. Her friend who was swimming to shore had no idea that her friend was in any trouble.

The woman who had been adrift at sea in a life-jacket for 2 hours in 16.8 degree water was severely hypothermic and she required aggressive treatment for severe hypothermia and she has been kept in hospital for further treatment.

NSRI continue to urge paddlers and boaters to have the NSRI emergency number programmed into their fully charged phone, always wear a life-jacket and have a referee whistle, red distress flares, and have the free NSRI RSA SafeTrx application on your phone and use SafeTrx every time you launch.

Surf-skiers and fishermen on sea-kayaks, canoes and paddle boards should always try to go in groups of 3 persons and never leave your floating resource (your surf-ski, canoe, sea-

St Francis Bay Drowning

Surfer ‘AJ’ commended for his quick action with Pink Rescue Buoy

Garth Shamley, Duty Coxswain activated theNSRI St Francis Bay duty crew on Sunday afternoon following eye-witness reports of two men being swept out to sea at Grannies Pool, St Francis Bay, and a local surfer, who had grabbed an NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy at the b

each, was reported to be swimming out to try to assist the two men.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II was launched and NSRI rescue swimmers, the SA Police Services and Private Care ambulance services responded.

On arrival on the scene the local surfer, known to NSRI only as AJ, had managed to get one of the men safely to shore with the use of the Pink Rescue Buoy but the second male casualty remained missing in the surf.

During a search the second casualty was located and recovered from the surf by two local surfers, friends of AJ, and by NSRI rescue swimmers, and brought onto the beach where NSRI medics and an NSRI doctor performed CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). Sadly after all CPR efforts were exhausted the man was has been declared deceased.

The rescued man was transported to hospital by Private Care ambulance in a stable condition for treatment for non-fatal drowning symptoms. The body of the deceased male has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to the family and friends of the deceased man.

NSRI commend the effort of the surfer AJ who went to their aid and was able to use the Pink Rescue Buoy to successfully rescue one of the men.

Bathers are warned to take care as there have have been a spate of bathers being caught in rip currents with three bathersand a body boarder in Jeffreys Bay being rescued by lifesavers last week. Fortunately all three were brought to shore safely.

A busy weekend for NSRI in St Francis & Plettenberg Bay

National Sea Rescue

Fisherman lifted off a Chokka boat off St Francis whilst a man sadly drowned in canoeing accident in Plett.

At 23h00, Saturday, 29th September, NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from the Chokka fishing boat Blue Marlin, reporting a crewman suffering severe stomach ailment and dehydration.

The Blue marlin was steaming towards the Port St Francis from fishing grounds at Maitlands, approximately 25 nautical miles off-shore. Because of the high wind and rough sea conditions with 20 to 25 knot Easterly wind and three meter confused seas, a call was made to let them get a bit closer before launching the rescue.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II was launched at 01h20 and rendezvoused with Blue Marlin 6 nautical miles off shore of the water tower.

The patient, an adult male, in a stable condition, was successfully transferred onto Spirit of St Francis and brought to Port St Francis where the patient, in a stable condition. was transported to hospital by Private Care ambulance .

The operation was completed at 02h45.

And it was a busy weekend for NSRI Plettenberg Bay:

At 15h25, Saturday, 29th September, NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were activated following reports from the SA Police Services of a boat capsized in the vicinity of the Keurbooms River Mouth.

The sea rescue craft Ray Farnham, Airlink Rescuer and Free Runner were launched and the NSRI rescue vehicle, the SA Police Services, WC Government Health EMS, Medlife ambulance services, PBCPA (Plettenberg Bay Community Protection Association) members also responded.

An ex NSRI Plettenberg Bay member also stopped at the scene to assist.

On arrival at the scene at Poortjies Beach, Keurbooms River Mouth, a canoe with four people on board, two adult males aged 30 and two male children aged eight, all from Plettenberg Bay, was found capsized. It appeared local fishermen were able to rescue all four from the water.

CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) was commenced on one of the adults and breathing assistance resuscitation was commenced on one of the children who was in a critical condition.
The second adult and the second child were treated for shock and non-fatal drowning symptoms.

All four were transported to hospital but sadly after all CPR efforts were exhausted on the adult he was declared deceased. The child remained in a critical condition in hospital in Plettenberg Bay overnight and after his condition stabilised he was transferred to a hospital in George. He remains in a serious but stable condition but doctors are confident that the child will recover.

The second adult and the second child were both released from hospital following treatment for shock and treatment for non-fatal drowning symptoms.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to family and friends of the deceased man.

Also on Saturday at around 14h00, while NSRI Plettenberg Bay crew were attending at the boat club next door to the NSRI sea rescue base noticed a commotion on Central Beach where it appeared two young men were in difficulty in the surf.

NSRI coxswain Dan Meiring ran to the NSRI sea rescue base and grabbed a Malibu Rescue Board and launched into the surf.  Both teenagers, aged 18 and 16, were both caught in rip currents and in serious difficulty in the surf, and Meiring on the Malibu Rescue Board was able to keep the two men afloat. Additional NSRI rescue swimmers launched into the surf and assisted Meiring to get the teenagers safely to the beach.

Once on the beach they were checked for non-fatal drowning symptoms as both appeared to be at the point of sinking beneath the surf when Dan reached them.

Both teenager were released after being medically checked and no further assistance was required.

And on Sunday 30th September NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were again activated following eye-witness reports of a drowning in progress at Robberg Beach near to the Beacon Island Hotel.

NSRI rescue swimmers and an NSRI rescue ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) responded and the sea rescue craft Airlink Rescuer was launched.

On arrival on the scene a 25 year old local man, who had been caught in a rip current, was found safe out the water after the rip current that he was caught in had washed him back in towards the beach and bystanders, including a 65 year local man, Andrew Olifant, had waded into shallow surf and they had managed to assist the man out of the water.

Eye-witnesses confirmed that the man had been face down in the water while he was swept out and then swept back in by rip-currents.

NSRI medics treated the man on the scene for non-fatal drowning symptoms and he has been transported to hospital by Medlife ambulance in a stable condition for further treatment.