Following on from where we left off. The advice from NSRI Station Commander, André Fraser, was to make the call first; and question yourself later, if you witness a possible or perceived emergency or rescue!
The reasoning behind this is that once contact is made, further assessment can be made assisted by the experienced NSRI duty personnel who activate and monitor all role players that are immediately brought into play. All NSRI’s sea going crew are volunteers, they, unlike other emergency services, do not man their base. Valuable time is required to get to the station to launch a rescue vehicle or vessel, always done against an unforgiving clock.
André recounted a rescue in Fransmanshoek; this rescue required the coordination of a number of different services to get a critically injured patient to hospital. A young man fishing off the rocks was swept into the surf and then battered against the rocks by large waves which inflicted severe lacerations, the most critical being a head and skull fracture. With the initial call Station 15 immediately despatched a vehicle to the scene. Once on the scene André made the decision to call in Air Sea Rescue Services (ASR), a provincial service based in Oudtshoorn. The critically injured patient could only be extricated safely by air. After the preliminary call to ASR to ensure they were available, André contacted the necessary departments starting with the Harbour Master moving up the chain to the Dept. of Transport then onto the Cape Metro who issue the launch of the ASR helicopter. A suitably equipped ambulance was also despatched to the scene.
In the interim a highly agitated and disoriented patient was stabilised for extraction off the rocks to the shore where further stabilisation and care could be carried out as there was significant swelling to the patient’s brain. This was a successful rescue but valuable time was lost due to equipment malfunction and indecision on final transportation of the patient. Lessons are always learned and the necessary changes are implemented to minimise their impact.
Station 15’s equipment requires continual upgrading to keep pace with changing demands and new rescue methods and techniques. It is impossible to have all the necessary equipment at hand to handle all possible rescue challenges. Crew are therefore trained to improvise and training, as directed by head office, includes coastal and inland rescues. A specialised division created to assist with Whale disentanglement is also in place and has handled a number of disentanglements.
Station 15 has a wish list; they require a new larger seagoing vessel, an ORC, additions and alterations to their slipway and boathouse facilities, funding to publish their Jubilee celebration book as well as boat house incidentals such as protective clothing, a winch to speed up their craft launches, all to the tune of R 24.5 million. So; what is your life worth? If you can assist, give André Fraser a call!
The Orc is a 14.8 meter long self-righting rescue vessel, it has a beam of 4.8 meters, two 442 Kw engines and is manned by 6 volunteer crew members.