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The NSRI’s highly successful Pink Rescue Buoy programme is in need of custodians to help maintain these life-saving rescue devices. Could you be the next custodian in your area?

You may already have read about the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoy (PRB) programme, which has helped to save the lives of 158 people since inception in 2017. Highly visible thanks to their bright pink colour, these buoys act as a reminder to take care if there are no lifeguards on duty; in the event of someone getting into difficulty in the water, they can be used as emergency flotation until help arrives.

But did you know that the NSRI is looking for volunteers to look after PRBs in their area?

While more than 1700 PRBs have been placed around selected inland rivers, dams and at beaches around the country so far, they are, sadly, sometimes stolen, vandalised, and occasionally not returned to their proper location (a sturdy pole with signage showing how they should be used) after use.

PRB custodians require their own transport, and all that is asked is that they check on the Pink Buoys in their area every two weeks or so and report their findings (any missing buoys, for example) to the NSRI via a volunteer WhatsApp group.

Steven Douglas is an NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy custodian in the Wilderness area. He shares a recent experience that illustrates the importance of the buoys, as well as ensuring they are well-maintained and in the right location:

With the recent heavy rains and high water level in the Sedgefield lagoon, the river still flowed strongly. I had just arrived at the lagoon mouth to check on the buoy located there when I noticed two young brothers, aged about 7 and 8, making their way through the fast-flowing water toward the other side of the river to play on the eroded bank. I wasn't too concerned as the going looked good, and their grandfather was watching from the bank on my side. The elder of the kids got through the rushing water easily, but the younger, about two-thirds over, struggled a little and shouted for help. His brother waded back in and helped him get to the opposite bank, where they happily played as planned. Grandfather walked parallel to them, not much concerned.

After they had played upstream, it appeared they would try and cross back over the river. By now, I was on the headland above them, watching them, and whistled at them to get their attention and motion them to move back to where they had crossed as the current upstream was stronger.

I ran back down to the water's edge and, together with another man, waded across the lagoon with a pink buoy in tow, in case it was needed.

Halfway across, I was surprised that the kids had got across in the first place as the current and was surprisingly strong and quite tricky to move through – even for an adult man.

When we got to the other side, the man picked up the elder of the two kids, and I picked up the brother, and we carried them back through the current, putting them down when it was safe for them to wade back to their grandfather who was standing on the bank waiting for us.

I thanked the man for helping me (and the kids) and returned the buoy to its pole.

Luckily, we didn't need the buoy this time, but it was gratifying to know that we had one with us if it had been needed. If we hadn’t been there to help the boys, it could have made the difference between life and death.


To apply to become a Pink Rescue Buoy custodian in your area, fill out the application form here.

If you would like to sponsor a Pink Rescue Buoy, visit the NSRI’s online store here.

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