A paramedic who died serving others
THIS column is dedicated to the unsung heroes in our community. They are not superhuman. They are ordinary people, like you and I.
The recent devastating freak storms that ravaged parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal brought a large number of these extraordinary humans to the fore.
The sad case of ER24 paramedic Vicky Govender caught my eye and I dwelt on it for days.
On October 10, Govender and his ambulance partner, Tracy Bederson, braved the storm and rushed around attending to emergencies.
They rushed to a collision on the N2 when they lost control of the response vehicle in the flooded roads.
Both were rushed to hospital, but sadly Govender lost his life three days later.
A lifesaver, a husband, devoted father and hero. Gone too soon.
Floods of messages of condolences came in for the deceased showing that his death touched the psyche of the nation.
Sympathy messages came from qualified paramedics from afar as Gauteng who said they had trained under Govender and he had made a difference in their lives.
ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak explained the jobs of people like Govender.
“They place their lives on the line. They go in where the majority of members in the public or general people would not.
“When you are at your worst condition, they are the people that answer the call and go out to assist. They do not think twice to go out and assist people that need help.”
On a more personal level, one of my best friends, Sanjay Laljith, local actor and fire department employee, knew Govender and attested to his being a likeable and dedicated paramedic.
It was said that he always had a smile on his face, was always ready to help his fellow human being and was a role model in the Merebank community.
His wife and three children bade goodbye to him that morning but could never have imagined the finality of that goodbye.
So too with other lifesavers, such as firemen and police officers.
They put their lives on the line for us daily. However, sadly, they only come to our consciousness when one of them dies or is hurt in the line of duty.
Also, like Govender, most of these people have families. Think seriously about their family life.
Their loved one can be taken away from them at any time. Every moment spent with their dad or mom is a very precious time.
Yet they unselfishly allow them to go out there on our behalf and look after our well-being.
To serve and protect total strangers. To take a bullet for you. To give their life for me.
I would say the families of these men and women, who serve us are quite the heroes themselves.
I would like, through the medium of this column and newspaper, to thank them for the sacrifices they make in sharing their loved ones with us.
We read about crooked policemen and also traffic officers soliciting bribes to quash a fine, and we can make the mistake of tarring all of them with the same brush.
However, your father may be a police officer, or your uncle or grandfather could have been one.
Surely you would not, in your wildest imagination, believe that they are, or could have been, corrupt.
Let’s commend these brave souls. It can even extend to security officers that respond to home alarms. Their jobs are risky too.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Prem Balram and his Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) that operates out of the North Coast.
Their success rate in catching and apprehending criminals, who prey on innocent households is off the radar.
It has been said that residents in danger call Rusa before any other law agency. Balram and his team put their lives on the line regularly.
So too does his compadre, Rivaaj Ramdas, who is in charge of a “brotherhood” of crime fighters.
They do a sterling job in assisting the public and rooting out criminals.
What is commendable about both groups is that it’s not just playing “cowboys and crooks” or “cops and robbers”.
Whenever there is an emergency, whatever it is, they are on the scene assisting. Be it removing a tree that has fallen across a road or rescuing a pet, they rise to the occasion.
In the storm that struck KwaZulu-Natal, both groups were prominent in assisting the beleaguered communities, working late into the night helping people with flooded homes and other disasters.
So, as our dedicated police and security officers daily face armed criminals, or a firefighter faces a deadly back-draft in a blazing building – pray for them.
Pray that God keeps them safe and protects them.
Hopefully they will go back home to their loving families and all will be good again.
Until the next day.
Ravi Govender is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. E-mail: email@example.com
Paramedic Vicky Govender was a lifesaver, a husband, devoted father and hero.