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Four recent rescues show that the NSRI’s ground-breaking Pink Rescue Buoy initiative is going full steam ahead.

Over April and May this year, the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoys (PRBs) played a critical role in four rescues carried out in Salmon Bay, Kleinmond, Langebaan, and Cape Town, bringing the total recorded number of reported PRB rescues to 150 since the project began in 2017.

On Sunday, 16 April, Kleinmond resident Renaldo Arthur assisted two women in distress in the water. One woman managed to swim to safety, and with the help of another man, Dustin, as well as a PRB thrown to them by an Overstrand Municipality worker, Raowi, they managed to save the second woman.

In Salmon Bay, local skipper Daniel van Huysteen assisted a lady caught in a rip current using the aid of a PRB to bring her safely back to shore on 19 April.

On Sunday, 30 April, an NSRI rescue swimmer noticed two people caught in a rip current at Paradise Beach, Langebaan. He launched into the water and successfully rescued the woman and teenage boy with the aid of a nearby PRB.

Finally, at about 4.30pm on Sunday, 7 May, UK tourist Toby Finneran was walking along Cape Town’s promenade when he came across a boy whose friend was in distress. After receiving the PRB from the boy and battling a treacherous rip current, Toby was able to bring the swimmer back to shore, and NSRI crew arrived shortly afterwards.

To date, more than 1600 highly visible, bright Pink Rescue Buoys have been strategically placed on signs at selected inland rivers, dams and beaches across the country. The buoys act as a reminder to take care if there are no lifeguards on duty, and that in the event of someone getting into difficulty in the water, they can be thrown or swum out as emergency flotation until help arrives.

This pioneering project is one of the first of its kind in the world, which is why each rescue is celebrated by the NSRI, as it shows that public rescue equipment can save lives.

Internationally, there is a fear that if rescue equipment such as PRBs is made available to the public, untrained people who use them may get themselves in trouble – however, the NSRI has proven this to be untrue, as every one of the recorded 150 PRB rescues since inception have been successful. “All in-water rescues that we know of have been successful and no harm has come to any rescuer who has taken a Pink Rescue Buoy to help someone who was in danger of drowning,” says NSRI Drowning Prevention Manager and founder of the PRB project, Andrew Ingram.

Indeed, it seems the world is waking up to this fact.

Much like a similar incident which inspired the PRB project in South Africa years ago, in New Zealand, a 43-year-old father recently drowned at Moturiki Island, New Zealand, after trying to save his daughter, who survived.

“In incidents like this, the New Zealand Coroner always investigates and issues a finding; and sometimes makes recommendations. In this case, the Coroner’s finding was that the use of Public Rescue Equipment is common sense,” says Andrew.

The New Zealand Coroner stated that "… using some form of flotation device is the safest option for a bystander (when attempting a water rescue). Although having an evidential basis to any claim is important, it would seem that such an assertion is also in line with common sense. … Surf Lifesaving New Zealand and Tauranga City Council will work collaboratively to undertake a coastal risk assessment and agree on an implementation plan which will identify the locations where signage and rescue equipment will be beneficial to public safety."

Most importantly, says Andrew, the Coroners' findings and recommendation that signage and Public Rescue Equipment are beneficial to the public will be distributed to all New Zealand councils. It is hoped that more countries will follow suit.

[Toby Finneran information source: IOL]

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