Since the start of the Pink Rescue Buoy project in 2017, 81 lives have been saved with the use of these buoys.
The distinctive floatation devices have been strategically placed on signs at selected inland rivers, dams and at beaches. In addition to reminding the public that they are in an area where there are no lifeguards on duty, the Pink Rescue Buoys can be used to help a person in the water who appears to be in distress.
In a recent rescue, the buoy was used by the NSRI's Grant Grove and Dean Wegerle to assist a swimmer who was caught in a rip current in Jeffrey’s Bay. Grant, who is an EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) duty controller, a coxswain and rescue swimmer at NSRI Strandfontein, and Dean, the NSRI’s Events and Community Fundraising Manager, a coxswain and a rescue swimmer, were killing time between meetings while on an events roadtrip when the incident occurred.
“We were walking on the beach when we spotted a swimmer about 100 metres out. The rip he was in wasn’t an obvious one,” Dean recalls. “He just seemed to be constantly swimming in one spot.”
Their instincts told them that the man was having difficulty, so they watched him for a few minutes to assess whether he needed assistance.
“Grant walked over to the Pink Rescue Buoy while I kept my eyes on the swimmer, still uncertain whether he was caught in the rip because he looked like quite a strong swimmer,” Dean says. “We then made the call to go in, so Grant, who is actually a lifeguard, went into the water and I activated the station. When Grant got out to the casualty, he was still unaware that he was in a rip current, and declined assistance.
"But Grant insisted that he take the Pink Rescue Buoy and when he grabbed on, you could see the relief on his face because he realised that he needed to get out of there. Both Grant and I think that he was about three minutes from going under, because he was slowly getting deeper and deeper into the water.”
The latest Pink Rescue Buoy rescue saw a 16-year-old boy saved by a Good Samaritan in Port Alfred. Eye-witnesses at West Beach had called the NSRI to report a drowning in progress. A rescue crew was deployed to the scene, but when they arrived, they found that a quick-thinking bystander had used a Pink Rescue Buoy to pull the boy out of the water.
An NSRI rescue swimmer helped the two onto the beach and the boy was checked by paramedics before going back to his family.
“It’s just incredible having Pink Rescue Buoys on the beaches because they are easy to use,” Dean says.
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