NSRI volunteers have been responding to an ever-increasing number of people in difficulty close to the shore. These rescues are predominantly for people caught in rip currents on beaches with no lifeguards.
Sea Rescue crews have modified their method of responding to these emergencies. The interventions include a change in the type of craft that we use, new innovations in the training of our crews and a concerted effort in building relationships with other organisations in the interest of drowning prevention.
With this in mind, Sea Rescue has affiliated with Lifesaving South Africa (LSA) enabling Sea Rescue volunteers to train as Lifeguards within Sea Rescue. Both organisations will work together on a National and a local level, focusing on education, prevention and rescue. Leading the way in this initiative is NSRI Station 18 Melkbosstrand which formed a Lifesaving unit within the structure of the Sea Rescue station. NSRI Station 37 Jeffrey’s Bay was the next.
Sea Rescue CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson: “It is a natural progression for Sea Rescue to get involved with Lifeguarding. We already respond regularly to drowning in progress emergencies, often working closely with club and professional lifeguards. This step of training some of our NSRI volunteers to be lifeguards, and giving them the opportunity to get the internationally recognised Lifeguard Award will allow us to improve and expand our rescue capability. NSRI Lifeguards will do voluntary duty at designated beaches, and as long as the public choose to swim at a beach that has lifeguards on duty and swim between the flags, lifeguards will be able to offer them a safe beach experience.”
Lifesaving South Africa President Dylan Tommy: “Research has shown that the majority of beach drownings occur at beaches which are not patrolled by lifeguards or outside patrol hours. It is therefore very important that people only swim where and when lifeguards are on duty. Lifesaving South Africa’s clubs currently patrol 60 beaches along the coast and it is great to have the NSRI as a member, as it means we can increase the number of beaches patrolled by lifeguards.”