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22 December 2011

Busy 48 hours for NSRI volunteers : National


Image: Still Bay's SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS. (Click for larger image.)

CHINESE LANTERNS MISTAKEN FOR RED DISTRESS FLARES – NSRI ARE MAKING AN URGENT APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC NOT TO SET OFF CHINESE LANTERNS:


Chinese Lanterns are made out of a balsa wood or thin wire frame, a paper shell and a candle or burning device in the centre. The candle is lit allowing the generation of heat to send the lantern skyward where it floats through the sky (similar to a hot air ballon) until the candle burns out and then the structure falls to the ground.

Once Chinese Lanterns are set off they are abandoned by the people setting them off and are seldom, if ever, followed by their owners to be properly disposed of wherever they land.
It is widely believed to be near impossible to predict what they will do or where they will go once set off as they are at the mercy of the elements of the wind.
It has also been debated, in some circles, that they may pose a threat to aviation once sent airborne.

Chinese Lanterns, once airborne and floating through the sky, are often mistaken by eye-witnesses as red distress flares.

At Still Bay last night dozens of Chinese Lanterns were set off from the beach. Multiple reports of red distress flares sighted were received by the emergency services only to be found, on investigation, to have been Chinese Lanterns set off from the beach.

Chinese Lanterns are feared to be a fire hazard – if they are caught in the wind and land in trees or dry grass fields or on buildings while the candle is still burning!
Wire frame Chinese Lanterns have been found on occasion to have ensnared small animals and birds sometimes long after they have been left abandoned wherever they land.
Chinese Lanterns set off by members of the public and then abandoned may also be regarded as a form of general littering.

The NSRI strongly believe that, based on the potential risks that chinese lanterns may pose and based on the number of false alarms that the NSRI respond to, which turn out to be chinese lanterns mistaken to be red distress flares, and taking into account the general litter factor, that the practice of setting off chinese lanterns, into the sky, is irresponsible behavior and we are urgently appealing to the public to refrain from this practice.

JONGENSFONTEIN Wednesday 21st DECEMBER 2011. ANGLER SWEPT OUT TO SEA:

At 18h30 NSRI Still Bay volunteers were called out following reports of a drowning in progress at Sand Strand, Jongensfontein, 12km from Still Bay. Our duty crew launched SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS while NSRI rescue swimmers responded to the scene in our NSRI rescue vehicle.

On arrival it was found that 40 year old angler Carel van der Merwe, from Durbanville, had been swept off rocks by waves and swept out into the pounding 4 meter breaking swells.
A fellow angler, local Chris van Zyl, had thrown a line to Carel, trying to pull him out of the water but the rip currents dragged Carel further out into the middle of the surf line.

When our sea rescue vehicle arrived on-scene Carel could be seen about 100 meters off-shore being pounded by the huge breaking surf.

NSRI Still Bay rescue swimmer Jean du Plessis swam out, from the beach, using a rip current to reach the casualty quickly (in these situations rip-currents are regarded as a rescue swimmers best friend – helping the rescue swimmer to get out to sea quickly), and on reaching Carel at first Jean tried to swim him towards shore but the surf was pounding them so instead, Jean tryed to swim Carel out through the big surf towards the back line where Jean knew the sea rescue craft would shortly be arriving on scene.

But Carel is a large chap and efforts were further hampered by the breaking waves so NSRI rescue swimmer CJ Joubert, who at that stage was standing at the sea rescue vehicle and directing the sea rescue craft to where the two men were in the surf, seeing the dilemma that his colleague faced decided to use the same rip-current to quickly reach the two and lend his fellow volunteer a hand.

Once CJ reached them, now about 150 meters off-shore, but still a good 100 meters inside of the back line, the two rescuers struggled to pull Carel out through the surf. Every time they gained some ground a set of waves tumbled in and drove them back into the center of the surf line.

At the same time the sea rescue boat SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS, now on-scene, at the back line, some 100 meters from the casualty and the 2 rescuer swimmers, was trying desperately to find gaps in the surf to rush in and pick up the trio. The frequency of the waves and their size made it impossible and the risk of capsizing the sea rescue craft was just too great.

It was then that Jean and CJ decided to rather drag Carel through the surf towards the beach using the incoming waves to aid their progress despite the risk this posed to their casualty as incoming waves kept engulfing their efforts.

On reaching the beach other NSRI rescuers helped them ashore.

Carel was in a serious condition and it was evident he had breathed in (aspirated) water. He was rushed him to our local doctor who treated Carel for near drowning symptoms, shock, exhaustion and breathing difficulties. A Metro EMS ambulance was summoned and the Carel has been transported to hospital in Mossel Bay for further treatment in a stable condition.

NSRI are urging the public to be extremely safety conscious over the coming Christmas weekend where the monthly new moon spring tide will cause high tide to be higher than normal, low tide to be lower than normal and rip currents to be stronger than normal. Bathers and anglers should be particularly cautious during this period.

Shelly Beach Wednesday 21st December 2011. :

At 11h10 NSRI Shelley Beach duty crew were called out following for a drowning in progress in the surf at Shelly Beach near to our NSRI rescue base.

Our volunteer crew responded to the base to prepare to launch a rescue boat and Hibiscus Medivac ambulance service responded.

Prior to launching the sea rescue boat it was confirmed that two local dive charter teams, African Dive Adventures and Aqua Planet, both in the vicinity of the incident at the time, had responded and had successfully managed to help a young man and a young woman from the surf bringing both to shore safely.

The young couple were treated on-scene by Hibiscus Medivac paramedics and both were transported to hospital in stable conditions, suffering symptoms of near drowning, by Hibiscus Medivac ambulance.

According to reports the couple, Casey Booysen, 20, and Johan Hayward, 19, both from Brakpan, Gauteng, had been swept off the rocks they were walking on, close to the shores edge, by a wave and were both then swept out to sea.”

NSRI are urging the public to be extremely safety conscious over the coming Christmas weekend where the monthly new moon Spring tide will cause high tide to be higher than normal, low tide to be lower than normal and rip currents to be stronger than normal. Bathers and anglers should be particularly cautious during this period.

KLEINMOND – Wednesday, 21st DECEMBER, 2011. A father and son swept off rocks while angling:

At 14h58 NSRI Hermanus volunteer sea rescue duty crew were called out following reports of a drowning in progress at Kleinmond where eye-witnesses had raised the alarm after noticing a young man in difficulty in the water approximately 50 meters off-shore and an older man in the surf nearby being swept and battered against rocks.

Our NSRI Hermanus volunteers responded to the scene in our rescue vehicle towing the rescue boat SPIRIT OF LE JENMAR II which was launched at the Kleinmond slipway. The Metro EMS Skymed helicopter, Metro EMS ambulance, local lifeguards and the SA Police Services responded.

It appears that a father and son, Bruce Williams, 61, and Lindsay, 19, from Edenvale, Johannesburg, had been swept off rocks by a wave while angling.
Bruce had been swept into the surf and then bashed against the rocks sustaining a head injury before managing to clamber onto rocks where he remained dazed and disorientated while Lindsay was swept further out to sea.

Chrisman de Jager, 31, from Fairland, Johannesburg, on holiday at Kleinmond with his family, noticed the commotion while on his way for a beach walk.

He ran to his nearby holiday home and got his Dad, Kobus, to raise the alarm while he grabbed his brothers surfboard and ran back to the beach and launched the surfboard reaching Lindsay to provide a floating platform for Lindsay to hold onto.

They couldn’t get back to shore because of the rocky shoreline and had they tried they may have been battered against the rocks themselves but the surfboard provided an adequate floating aid while they waited for the responding rescue teams.

Duty lifeguards at the nearby Kleinmond beach responded to the scene on a jet-ski and on reaching the two men they rescued Lindsay and took him to shore while other lifeguards and members of the public recovered Bruce from the rocks.

Chrisman was able to get to shore safely on his surfboard without any assistance.

Bruce and Lindsay were treated on scene by Metro EMS paramedics, Lindsay suffering a dislocated shoulder and Bruce suffering a laceration and bruising on the head, before both being transported to hospital by a Metro EMS ambulance, both in stable conditions, where doctors will replace the dislocation of Lindsays arm and Bruce is receiving treatment for shock and a laceration and contusions to the head.

During the entire ordeal Kobus de Jager, using his cellphone, kept the responding rescue teams abreast of developments as they unfolded.

Chrisman de Jager is commended for his actions.

NSRI are urging the public to be extremely safety conscious over the coming Christmas weekend where the monthly new moon Spring tide will cause high tide to be higher than normal, low tide to be lower than normal and rip currents to be stronger than normal. Bathers and anglers should be particularly cautious during this period.

- NSRI