At 15h24, Saturday, 13 August, NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty crew were activated following a request for emergency assistance from a family reporting the father and son seriously injured on the Robberg Nature Reserve hiking trail.
Our NSRI duty crew responded to our NSRI Plettenberg Bay rescue station where the sea rescue craft The Courtenay's Rescuer was launched. Our NSRI rescue vehicle responded, additional NSRI crew responded in their private vehicles.
Med-Life ambulance services, WC Government Health EMS, the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter were activated and they responded.
Cape Nature rangers were requested to respond.
While NSRI and emergency services were responding it became evident that other hikers had stopped to help the family of 4 - a father, 48, and his son 13, who were seriously injured and the mother, 44, and daughter, 8. They are from Knysna, formerly from Gauteng.
On their second evening staying at the Fountain Shack, Robberg Nature Reserve, the father and son were swept off a rock by waves. They were washed over rocks into a tidal pool during the incoming Spring high tide.
It appears that they were both rendered unconscious in the incident after being struck against rocks during their fall.
The son regained consciousness finding himself in the water and seriously injured.
He noticed his father unconscious in the water near to him.
With waves breaching the tidal pool, the son, despite his serious injuries, managed to rescue his father from the water bringing him into shallow water amongst the rocks.
The father regained consciousness but he was in a serious condition and unable to help himself.
Despite serious injuries the son ran the 50 meters up a hiking trail (and stairs) to the shack to alert his mom and his sister who were not aware of the incident.
The mom went with her son to render assistance to her husband and she raised the alarm calling NSRI using the phone number she found on the nearby emergency board.
They were able to get the dad higher up on the rocks, out of the water, and they initiated first aid.
The dad was able to assist in the process of moving to higher rocks.
The incoming Spring high tide continued to threaten where they were on the shoreline.
Both the son and the father had sustained serious injuries.
Other hikers, passing-by, had stopped to assist.
We believe this included a group of Italian tourists who were assisting on the scene and one of them was also assisting in communications with our NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty controller on a cellphone.
The daughter had also used a flash light in efforts to signal to summon other hikers on the beach area and we believe that people who had been on the beach had seen and reacted to those signals and they had come over to them to assist.
Hikers assisted the injured son up to the shack.
The NSRI rescue craft arrived on the scene first and NSRI medics initiated medical treatment.
The sea rescue craft remained off-shore after dropping off the NSRI rescue crew in shallow surf.
They were joined on the scene by additional NSRI crew, WC Government Health EMS paramedics and Med-Life paramedics who had hiked to the scene from the parking area.
The father was on the rocks on the shoreline at the bottom of the hill and the son was at the shack.
The father was secured into a Stokes basket stretcher and he was carried up to the shack.
The EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter arrived on the scene and hoist deployed additional paramedics to assist with medical treatment.
NSRI had secured landing zones on the beach nearby to the incident and at the parking area.
In relays the father and the son were airlifted by Skymed to the parking area where additional medical treatment was rendered before both were transported to hospital in ambulances in serious but stable conditions.
The mom and the daughter hiked to the parking area with the local and the Italian hikers who were assisting them.
These hikers had also taken a large portion of the families belongings with them. They are commended for their assistance.
The operation completed at around 21h00.
The father and son have undergone surgery in hospital for serious injuries and we expect an extended recovery period in the care of hospital staff and after care. They are both expected to make full recoveries.
The family has respectfully requested privacy at this difficult time while they are healing.
All emergency services involved are commended for the swift response and the hikers and tourists who helped are commended for their efforts.
The son is commended for rescuing his dad in the water despite earlier being unconscious himself and despite his serious injuries.
The mom and daughter are commended for their efforts under trying circumstances.
Hospital staff are commended for the ongoing care that they are rendering to the family.
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