At 15h56, Saturday, 10 June, NSRI Knysna received a call from a resident of Knoetzie reporting that she had been notified by a car attendant and that he had been notified by an unidentified fisherman, of a local angler who was lying injured somewhere in that vicinity and that the injured angler urgently required an ambulance.
Neither the location nor the medical condition of the injured man was known, other than it was in the vicinity of Knoetzie, and that it appeared, from the information, that a bolder had fallen on top of the angler which had pinned him down.
The fisherman who had reported the incident to the car guard had apparently left the scene and no further information could be received from him.
NSRI Knysna Station Commander, Jerome Simonis, requested that the resident kindly ask the car attendant to go back to the area where the fisherman had been injured and to return with further information on the condition of the casualty and exact location so that resources could be directed to that area.
In the interim, NSRI Knysna activated all duty crew, as well as WC Government Health EMS – ambulance and rescue, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services, SA Police Services and Police Search & Rescue.
Government Health Forensic Pathology Services also activated.
NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) was notified and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter was requested to be placed on standby by Metro EMS Control.
The NSRI rescue craft JayTee IV was launched with 3 NSRI rescue swimmers and an NSRI rescue vehicle responded.
On arrival of the rescue crew at Knoetzie the car attendant who had been sent to find the fisherman returned and he was able to provide an update on the condition and the location of the casualty.
It appears that while on his way to go fishing the injured fisherman had grabbed onto a large rock whilst climbing over the rocks, the rock had dislodged, and he fell backwards into a rock pool with the large rock landing on top of him and he was unable to move after suffering injuries.
It appears that a lone unidentified fisherman while passing by had came across the injured man who was lying in the rock pool and the lone fisherman had reportedly managed to roll the rock off the casualty before heading towards Knoetzie to raise the alarm.
On NSRI’s arrival at Knoetzie Beach, the crew onboard the NSRI rescue craft JayTee IV conducted a shoreline search for the fisherman but was not able to spot the injured fisherman from the sea side.
The car attendant had then returned to the injured man with a reflective vest which he was asked to wave towards the rescue craft to help to find the location of the injured fisherman.
NSRI shore crew, EMS rescue technicians, EMS paramedics, Police Search & Rescue and Government Health Forensic Pathology Services joined in the search.
Throughout the search, communications were hampered by no cell phone signal at Knoetzie making communications between the emergency services challenging. As a result, initial communications were relayed between the crew on the beach to the NSRI rescue craft and to the NSRI Knysna rescue base.
NSRI Knysna requested the assistance of local resident, Search & Rescue pilot Greg Johnsson, of Savanna Helicopters.
At that stage, the NSRI crew onboard the rescue craft spotted smoke coming from a fire that had been started by the car attendant in his efforts to attract the attention of the NSRI crew on the rescue craft.
Amongst a very rocky and barely accessible location on the coastline, the NSRI deployed 3 rescue swimmers from the NSRI rescue craft. They swam medical equipment on a floating stretcher to the shoreline.
They then hiked along rocks to reach the injured fisherman and they medically assessed the injured man who was found to be injured, free from the entrapment and at risk of the rising tide.
The fisherman was treated for hypothermia and injuries. Once stabilised and secured onto a backboard he was carried away from the danger zone of the incoming tide.
On receiving authorization to assist with the search and rescue, a Savanna Helicopters Eurocopter, from Rheenandal, arrived at Knoetzie locating the NSRI rescue crew and the casualty but with rapidly fading light and no suitable landing zone the helicopter was unable to remain on scene and had to return to base.
2 EMS rescue paramedics and 3 Police Search & Rescue officers reached the scene and paramedics continued with medical treatment to the 41-year-old local fisherman who was in good spirits.
Additional NSRI rescue swimmers were requested due to considerations being made to transport the patient to safety by sea.
At 17h54 the NSRI rescue craft Eileen Medway was launched and arrived on the scene with an additional 2 NSRI rescue swimmers.
By that stage, it was well dark - an illumination flare was set off to illuminate the area to assist the 2 rescue swimmers through the breaking swell.
Efforts were made to carry the casualty towards Knoetzie, over an hour's hike from the incident location.
Due to dangers posed by darkness, the barely accessible terrain, including sheer cliffs and unstable footing, it was decided that the conditions were too dangerous to continue carrying the casualty and the decision was made for the 2 EMS rescue paramedics to remain with the casualty for the night and that the EMS/AMS Skymed Helicopter would be dispatched at first light on Sunday morning.
NSRI crew and SAPS Search & Rescue members hiked back to Knoetzie beach while both rescue craft returned to base.
The EMS rescue paramedics continued to monitor the patient throughout the night and provide medical care.
At first light, Sunday NSRI Knysna rescue crew set up a landing zone on Knoetzie Beach for the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter.
At 08h00 the helicopter arrived on scene.
Following a briefing the helicopter arrived on the scene and in the care of the rescue paramedics the patient, secured into a specialised stretcher Baumann’s Bag, hoisted the casualty into the helicopter and he was brought to Knoetzie Beach.
Following additional medical care the patient was airlifted to hospital by Skymed in a stable condition for further medical care.
It is believed that the fisherman who had originally found the patient had been able to free him from under a rock before he had found the car attendant.
That fisherman, the car attendant, the resident who called NSRI and all emergency services involved are commended for saving the fisherman’s life.
Following the incident, on Sunday, 2 NSRI rescue craft – Eileen Medway and Katharin – returned to the scene to recover NSRI equipment from the sea side.
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