To mark Mandela Month, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is celebrating the contributions of their volunteers, of which seven are 67 years old, including Pam St Clair-Laing, Shore Controller at Durban’s Station 5, one of the organisation’s unsung heroes who are in the background supporting the crew as they do their incredible life-saving work.
Responsible for all duties that need to be done when craft are out on a callout or training, St Clair-Laing manages the control room phones, radios and navigation systems and calls for other services such as ambulances if required. “I also meet and greet families of those rescued, if need to be at the base, and assist with bringing craft into the base after ops and training and gathering all the details for reporting.”
Most importantly, she also arranges the coffee, tea and food for the crew after a long night at sea.
“The NSRI was a first-class rescue and prevention organisation when I joined more than 24 years ago, and I have witnessed it transform over the decades. When I first began it was just the basic requirements for the crew and training, but in the ensuing years, the Craft, Personal Gear and Training has improved 100% with the help of donations from corporates and people round the country.”
St Clair-Laing has volunteered more than 1 000 hours and holds various certifications including her VHF Radio License, First Aid and Fire Fighting as well as 4×4 and Shore Controllers.
“It has been a joy to see the faces of people who have been brought to safety from having trouble at sea. The pleasure knowing someone now has a member of their family home safe and sound.” She recalled some occasions which did not have such happy occasions, too, which serve to remind just why these selfless volunteers do what they do.
“What I love about the NSRI is the family lifestyle, working with the crew both in training and ops and the very special friendships which I have formed over the years,” said the former day care teacher, whose son Ashley has also been involved with the NSRI for 20 years. NSRI volunteers give of their time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help rescue people both on coastal and inland waters, and we hope Mandela Month inspires the public to volunteer just 67 minutes of their own time to help others in need,” she said.
When not volunteering, St Clair-Laing enjoys spending time with the family and taking park walks.
Members of the public can assist the NSRI by either making a donation or purchasing the Sea Rescue clothing range labelled “Station 67” via the website – www.nsri.org.za