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WILDERNESS:Johan Scholtz, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:At 17h18, Thursday, 11 February, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a drowning in progress between Wilderness and Leentjiesklip, at The Steps, Wilderness Beach, Southern Cape.Our duty crew responded to our sea rescue station and launched the sea rescue craft Rescue 23 Alpha while NSRI rescue swimmers, Eden 911 ambulance services and WC Government Health EMS responded.While responding to the scene a German lady contacted NSRI informing us that she and her husband were at the beach and that her husband had entered the water with a body board to assist a man that they were witnessing being swept out to sea in rip currents.The casualty was about 100 meters off-shore in the surfline.On NSRI and the emergency services arriving on the scene we found the casualty, a local adult male, was safely on the beach after he had been rescued from the surf.The casualty had been swimming when he was caught in strong rip currents and he was swept out to sea before being rescued by a Good Samaritan.The casualty was assessed by paramedics and he was treated for exhaustion and for non fatal drowning symptoms but he was otherwise not injured and following some medical treatment he was released requiring no further assistance.The Good Samaritan rescuer and his wife, German citizens, from Lubeck, Germany, who have a house in Wilderness, told NSRI that they witnessed the man being swept out to sea and they realised that they needed to react quickly to save the man from drowning.Bjoern von Bismarck, 49, who is a former German Police officer, who for a while in his younger years belonged to a special tactical unit of the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei), grabbed his body board and without hesitation he launched into the water swimming over a hundred meters out to sea through heavy surf where he reached the casualty finding him to be exhausted and barely able to stay afloat.His wife Julie had contacted NSRI giving the NSRI duty controller minute by minute feedback of the situation as it unfolded.Bjoern helped the casualty onto his body board and then started swimming him towards the shore but from sheer exhaustion the casualty was unable to hold onto the board and he kept slipping off the board. Bjoern had to keep hauling him back onto the body board.After some time swimming through the heavy surf conditions they reached the shore and safety.Once they were safely on the beach NSRI and the emergency services were arriving on the scene.Bjoern and Julie von Bismarck recounted to NSRI that this is not the first rescue they have been involved in at that same beach.Bjoern had saved a South African man from drowning at the same place in February, 2020, and in March, 2020, he assisted some local surfers to rescue an Australian man at the same beach.Bjoern and Julie von Bismarck are commended for their swift reaction that saved the man from drowning.
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