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New Zealand is fast-tracking the roll-out of public rescue equipment, proven to save lives – inspired by the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoy programme.

In the past, international SAR organisations have been hesitant to provide rescue equipment (PRE) to the public for fear it may encourage untrained individuals to attempt risky rescues, endangering their own lives instead of calling on the assistance of appropriate emergency organisations.

Yet the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoy (PRB) programme has proven that, far from endangering lives, PRE saves lives: over 1850 bright-pink buoys, along with instructive signage, have been provided to beaches and rivers across South Africa, and have been used in over 180 rescues.

Regardless of the presence of PRE, bystanders will make an attempt to save either a loved one or a stranger in danger of drowning. Without the availability of flotation devices such as rescue buoys, this can result in easily preventable loss of life.

New Zealand is one country that has taken heed of the NSRI’s success and is now set to implement its own public rescue equipment rollout.

In May 2023, a father tragically drowned while attempting to rescue his daughter, who survived. After an investigation, the New Zealand Coroner stated that the use of public rescue equipment was an important safety provision in the event of a bystander rescue. Thanks to this recommendation, the country’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) announced in February that it would be investing NZ$100 000 in the production and installation of PRE – buoys and flotation rings – at the country’s 74 lifesaving clubs.

”Surf Lifesaving New Zealand is a highly regarded organisation,” says NSRI Communications Manager Andrew Ingram. “Dr Mick Kearney, National Coastal Safety Manager of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, and Dr Teresa Stanley, Research and Impact Manager of Drowning Prevention Auckland, have had a close look at the Pink Rescue Buoy programme and put a lot of effort and research into public rescue equipment around the globe. From this research they have developed guidelines for their country. I am sure that this will get many other nations to think about deploying PRE, which will save lives,” said Andrew.

As part of an agreement with charity Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, production of the buoys and flotation rings is expected to commence in June, and distribution to all 74 lifesaving clubs is expected to be complete by June 2025. The investment will be supported by education and signage.

The NSRI hopes that more countries will realise the lifesaving power of PRE as we forge ahead with our own rollout.

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