Lifeline to stop drownings
TRIED and tested and already having saved more than a dozen lives in 2018, the NSRI’s ‘pink buoy’ campaign is set to help reduce the number of drownings in Zululand this summer.
The concept is a simple one, making use of floatation torpedo buoy devices already widely used in lifesaver circles – but putting them in the hands of members of the public most likely to be on scene when bathers get into difficulties.
This pertains not only to beaches and coastal waters, but also to rivers, dams and inland waterways.
On the local scene, the buoys will be particularly valuable at popular recreational areas such as Richards Bay’s Bay Hall and Pelican Island zones, where sudden drops in ocean bed depth leave non-swimmers unable to stand.
Locations have been identified where the pink buoys, which have long ropes attached, will be housed in containers, also giving instructions and emergency contact numbers.
Barring theft, vandalism or misuse, and if used properly, they will undoubtedly prevent lives being lost.
Onlookers, seeing a bather in trouble, can throw the buoy out to the swimmer, who can then be pulled back to safety by the rope.
On Thursday evening, the NSRI project won the 2018 IMRF (International Maritime Rescue Federation) award for innovation and technology at a prestigious gala dinner in Norway.
NSRI head of drowning prevention, Andrew Ingram, was present to receive the award.
‘There is a clear pattern where people are drowning because of a lack of floatation,’ said Ingram.
‘The typical scenario is that someone is in difficulty in the water and a well-meaning bystander goes in to help.
‘Tragically, the helper - often also a nonswimmer - is usually the person who may be most likely to drown.
‘Rescues worldwide use torpedo buoy floatation. These buoys are affordable and effective.
‘The idea was to then make these available as public rescue devices,’ said Ingram.
‘A year later we have 300 installations around the country, and while theft has hovered between 8 and 18%, most importantly 15 lives have been saved.
‘The next step is to make this pervasive across all beaches and beside all water bodies. Through partnerships and community buy-in this is possible.’
Lifeline for swim season! Drown ‘victim’ Charné Skiba prepares to catch the pink floatation buoy hurled by NSRI volunteer Jean Slabbert, as colleagues Ryan Chase and Hillegard Holtzhausen prepare to give assistance to haul the patient to shore during a demonstration in the Bay Hall area on Saturday morning