Following METRO doctor and NSRI’s chief medical officer, Cleeve Robertson’s dramatic rescue of a toddler and his father at Kraal Bay, Langebaan, on Sunday, the Cape Times editors wrote a fantastic tribute to our volunteers in their opinion piece on Monday 03 January 2010. For those who missed the newspaper here it is in full:
Some people never go off duty. The director of the Western Cape’s Emergency Medical Services, Cleeve Robertson, who saved a child and his father at Langebaan this weekend, is one.
Robertson was on holiday on the lagoon when he spotted a toddler in trouble; he rescued the child and then his father clinging to a houseboat nearby.
Every year, thousands of people give up their own holidays so that the rest of us can holiday in safety. Some, like the doctors, nurses and other health workers who staff the busy hospital trauma units, the ambulance drivers and the police officers and traffic officers who patrol the beaches and roads, are paid to do so. Others, like the experts from the National Sea Rescue Institute and Wilderness search and rescue are unpaid volunteers.
Since its foundation in 1967, the NSRI has been involved in nearly 15 000 operations. Its volunteers have rescued more than 27 500 people and gone to the aid of 7 300 boats.
Somehow, with the help of donations of R22 million a year, the NSRI manages to run 30 coastal and 3 inland rescue bases, a fleet of 72 rescue boats and 21 vehicles.
Its 920 volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, but none of them is paid: if they were, the institute would have to find another R230 million a year.
On the mountains, especially in remote areas where specialized mountaineering skills and equipment are needed, the volunteers of Wilderness Search and Rescue and other services are a precious resource to the professional metro emergency services, risking their lives to reach and rescue stranded climbers and hikers.
We all know what we should do: be careful in the mountains and at sea; swim where it is safe and where there are lifeguards; take the proper equipment on hikes and stay on the paths; don’t be caught out by the changeable Cape weather;and,above all, don’t drink and drive or drink and swim.
Lets give all those volunteers and the off-duty professionals like Cleeve Robertson a bit of a break this year.