Sea Rescue Magazine
It feels strange writing a winter editorial when we haven’t had a drop of rain in Cape Town. Elsewhere it’s flooding… Evidence of a fickle and changeable environment that constitutes a real challenge to rescuers across the country as unpredictability and inconsistent water or weather conditions become the new norm. As if rescue wasn’t difficult enough without Mother Nature putting her spoon in it!
My thoughts these last few months were drawn back to a book called Search is an Emergency which was the bible for our search-theory training in Wilderness Search and Rescue. It describes the behaviour characteristics of various categories of search subject (adults, children, hunters and so forth), which we would take into account when searching for a particular subject. Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Stations had just such a search this last month when a small child went missing near the Krom River. The child, 3½-year-old Chulu, was found alive after an extensive search by a huge number and range of people and organisations. The social capital and eventual collective joy that surrounded this incident demonstrate our capacity to hang together when we need to, and the real sincere emotion evident tells me that we care and that our humanity is intact. I think this incident had wide impact and stirred many people inside and outside the NSRI. So it should. Well done to everyone!
As I roll through the 50th-anniversary station events, the passion and enthusiasm of rescuers are palpable and the energy on display is infectious, spreading to supporters, donors and communities alike. No pressure! Not surprising that public expectation is high and that a professional service is the demand. The NSRI fuels these expectations through the exemplary actions and commitment on display. When I see the men, women, equipment and boathouses, and experience the way they think, feel and behave, I’m extremely proud!
This view of the NSRI is underlined by my childhood memories of Bakoven in the ’60s when, as kids, we used to lend a hand to get the rescue boat and outboards from the green shed at the back of the beach to the water. The raw enthusiasm and commitment on display by the ‘originals’ in 1967 – people like Mitch Brown, Allan Cramb, Ivan Klerck, Don Nichols, Fred Lighton, Peter Adamo, Peter Pienaar, Peter Pullen, Derwent Kieser, Mike Hopkins, Mike Lundy, Bob Deacon, Ray Lant, Cooper Gordon, Neville Lipman and Harry Nagel – probably went unnoticed at the time but really inspired generations of NSRI crew members in no uncertain manner. Look around today!
We owe half a century of gratitude to the men and women who went before us and who ensured that children like Chulu have a chance in life. Saving lives, creating futures… It’s what we do in tribute to all those who went before.
Let the rain come. We’re ready!
DR CLEEVE ROBERTSON, CEO