It is important for our youth to be open to change, but most importantly to learn from those who have come before us
Final year BSc (Biology) student at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Margaretha Burger, has set her sights on completing a PhD in biological oceanography – so what better place to serve than on the frontlines with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
Burger is the lifeguard unit captain at NSRI Station 37 in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.
“I make sure all volunteer duties are performed by each member and that they are eligible to re-test each year,” she said. “I also make sure all the paperwork is in order for new trainees to become fully fledged lifeguards.”
Burger is also a class 4 coxswain, which allows her to helm class 4 boats – rescue vessels with a single motor and no navigational lights – during a rescue. While she was a class 3 trainee coxswain, she was allowed to commandeer vessels up to nine metres in length.
Burger became a volunteer for NSRI in February 2015.
“When I came back from a month in Germany as an exchange student, I wanted to do something new,” she said of her beginnings with the 53-year-old non-profit organisation, which is dedicated to saving lives on both South African coastal and inland waters.
“I was always interested in the ocean and emergency services. I Googled Sea Rescue and found out that there is a base in my own town,” she said. “I emailed the station commander and he invited me to join their training that Sunday. Like they say, the rest is history.”
She added: “One of my favourite things is being able to spend as much time as I do in the ocean, but truly, I love being part of a team helping others in need.”
Being Youth Month, Burger said: “The youth are the future of South Africa, and it is therefore important that we are open to change, and to learn from those who have come before us. This way, we can keep making the NSRI and South Africa a wonderful place to live and learn.”
The NSRI has continued to operate as an essential service during the Covid-19 lockdown, rescuing, and supporting where needed.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is the charity organisation that saves lives on South African waters – both coastal and inland. The NSRI works to prevent drowning through rescue operations, education and prevention initiatives. The NSRI is totally reliant on donations and sponsorships in order to do the work of saving lives, changing lives, and creating futures. Visit www.nsri.org.za for more information.
The minimum age for joining the National Sea Rescue Institute as a trainee rescuer is 16 years of age. Some NSRI stations offer a junior academy where candidates are able to join in for some of the theory related training from age 12 onwards. On these bases, these candidates are able to become fully fledged rescue crew once they have passed the minimum number of sea hours and practical assessments shortly after turning 16 – due to the benefit of having completed most of the theoretical aspects sooner.
Please note, that as with any trainee and any volunteer – training conditions and expectations are appropriately matched to the candidate’s ability, to manage their safety.