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As this video clearly shows, Strand beach in the Western Cape was extremely popular on New Year’s Day. Thanks to NSRI rescue crew and lifesavers, lives were saved and drownings prevented.

This past holiday season has been a busy one for NSRI crews, lifeguards, and emergency services. New Year’s Day on Strand beach in the Western Cape, in particular, was an eventful one, with two swimmers requiring rescue from a rip current, and a third almost escaping notice.

Class 4 coxswain with the Station 9 (Gordon’s Bay) crew, Roan Strydom, was at the helm of the jetRIB crew in the water, and spotted the third swimmer. This dramatic rescue was captured on video.

“It was a beautiful beach day and the Station 9 crew were doing a voluntary standby day at our satellite station on Strand Beach to assist in any way we could to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for all,” says Roan. “We had just launched our jetRIB Rescue 9 Bravo after a short break and while we were on patrol we noticed two swimmers struggling in a rip current, quickly being pulled out to sea. We swiftly recovered the swimmers, who were clinging onto each other and trying to keep themselves above the water.

“The onshore crew were radioed to be on standby for the drop off so they could assess the swimmers, who were exhausted from trying to swim against the current. As we got closer to shore, I looked back to time the swell in order to ensure a safe entry to the beach, and spotted another swimmer in the same current who was obviously struggling. We knew time was of the essence. We deposited the two swimmers with the shore crew, and then steered the vessel out to the same rip current where the third casualty was starting to go under.

“As we reached him he began to sink and the crew member on board grabbed him by his arm and pulled him onto the vessel. Radio communication was given to shore crew that the casualty was unresponsive. We made it to shore and NSRI crew members, along with strand lifesavers, assisted in carrying the casualty up to the lifesavers where a medic started treating him along with NSRI crew and lifesavers. He made a full recovery.”

Prioritising prevention

Being a lifeguard and volunteer rescue crewman during the festive season may seem like fun in the sun, but NSRI lifeguards and crew take their roles seriously; while their friends and families enjoy the holidays, they give up quality time with loved ones to ensure a safe summer season for beachgoers.

“It’s been amazing to see people returning to the beaches we love serving on,” says NSRI Lifeguard Training Coordinator Rebecca Carter-Smith. "We have been prioritising our prevention strategies and reacting whenever we see anyone entering the water near a rip current or outside the safe swimming zone.”

Whenever they get the chance, NSRI lifeguards try to inform beach-goers about the safe swim zones and dangers to watch out for.

“It's been a very positive experience for our lifeguards so far, the summer season is not yet over and we don't plan on slowing down,” says Rebecca. “Personally, I'm incredibly proud of the hard work the NSRI lifeguards have put into watching over their beaches and their visitors, and grateful to the emergency rescue services that assist our lifeguards whenever they need backup.”

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2022: what a year!

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