The adventurous side of Rescue

Being a volunteer rescue unit, we are all about the people…

Because we are about the people, we are always looking at ways to get involved with communities and different social aspects where the need for specialised rescue is likely event.

That brings us to our recent involvement with Pinetown Off Road Club, better know as PORC, and their social event dubbed South to West.

South to West, is an offroad motorcycle ride, not just any ride, its a social ride which includes young riders, ladies and experienced riders all out there together. And to make it even more challenging there is no route markings, its completely navigational with a GPS route only!

So this is where we come into play, 190 riders give or take, out in the bush riding 87 kilometers between Karidene on the South Coast to Westmead in Pinetown… We decide to join the ride and look after the riders should they need it.

Getting ourselves set up at the start of the ride

Getting ourselves set up at the start of the ride

We took our response vehicle out onto the route as backup, and since the vehicle could not follow the entire route, we hauled out the Side x Side and kitted it out, as well as Dan on his bike with enough gear to execute a rescue and stabilize a patient til rescue vehicle arrives.

Parking off along the route waiting for bikes to pass

Parking off along the route waiting for bikes to pass

The ride for us, turned out to be a rather social affair with us chatting to riders on the route and stopping off all over for a bit here and there.

Of course, we were put to good use during the event as well, with the first piece of action being at the biggest river crossing of the day, where a rider sunk his bike so deep in the sand the only way out was some digging and drag by the 4×4 power of the Side x Side…

Hitching up to drag the bike out the sand

Hitching up to drag the bike out the sand

The whole ride took us as rescue crew a little over 9 hours to complete, but not without one incident where a female rider had a rather nasty crash. We sorted out her cuts and bruises and then transported both her and her bike to a point where the marshal could collect.

Once we had gotten to the finish though was when the real fun began, two riders had gotten lost and ran out of fuel. So…

The fun began, tracing their cell phone signal and navigating to their position via GPS. Just over an hour later we found the two riders, some 2.5km off course.

We refueled their bikes and headed off with them following us back. However, this only lasted just over a km where after one of the bikes broke down and would not start again. We hooked up a tow line and began to tow one bike back while the other one rode.

2 km later the second bike broke down as well. So we had two bikes in tow behind us while we wound our way through the river and up the mountain side, all of this in the dark!

Eventually we get the riders to the tar road where they are met by a vehicle to load up their bikes, and we then continued back to the finish. Completing an additional 56 kilometers.

Parked off at the finish, just moments before being sent out to look for lost riders

Parked off at the finish, just moments before being sent out to look for lost riders

As a whole it was an awesome day out in the bush, and we will see all the riders again for the Eston 2 day navigational in November!

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Something you never understand…

After a few very quiet months on the Eastern front we received two calls for assistance a few weeks apart.

 

Both calls for a suicide in progress… The worst kind of response call ever.

 

You just know, from the word go that its a volatile situation you are responding to, and at best you are going to arrive there and have to wait around while a negotiator tries to talk the person out of it… However, that is the best case, and 90% of them are all over when you arrive and the situation becomes one of unpleasantness as was in both of these cases.

In the first case which was a sunny Friday morning in the middle of April, a request for immediate assistance was sent out to which we responded.

 

Arriving on scene we descovered that there was one single ambulance standing next to the road and no one in sight, after some time we discovered we needed to walk up this steep slope to the scene where we found a male had taken his life by hanging.

Which left us with the grizzly task of recovering the body from the tree and transporting it out to the road.

Recovering the body of the victim

Recovering the body of the victim

The next incident we responded to is one that completely wreaks havoc with the brain…

We get a request fro assistance, to yet again, a suicide in progress, and we need to please use discretion with sirens are to not create further alarm in the situation. The scene is on the N3 highway just outside Durban, and its peak afternoon traffic…

Vehicles lined up on the side of the freeway

Vehicles lined up on the side of the freeway

What gets to you, is the question of why… When you arrive on scene, and walk past the victims car, keys in the ignition, hazards flashing… And you speak to the first cop you come across and he tells you that he found the victims ID book on the passenger seat next to his lunch box…

You mind goes mad trying to process all of this…

Why would someone, pull over on a bridge in peak hour traffic and proceed to end their life by jumping off said bridge… why?

What goes through that persons mind to go through with such an act…

Leaving an indescribable mess for us to clean up at the bottom…

After waiting for an hour for the detectives to arrive and photograph the scene, the body was packaged into a bag and secured to a basket to be hauled out from the 60 metre gully below.

By this time it was dark, traffic had died down a bit and we needed to hurry up. The extrication was sped up by the use of a rope winch and simply dragging the basket up the slope.

Lining the rescue vehicle up to light up the working area

Lining the rescue vehicle up to light up the working area

Pulling the body to the top

Pulling the body to the top

These calls are never easy… Simply because we do not understand…

 

Please!!

If you suffer from depression or know of someone who does, or if you are in financial trouble, marital trouble or anything that is driving you or someone you know over the edge… Please, speak to someone…

Call any of the numbers below, someone will talk to you and assist you – it is never too late!

031 765 1314 Crisis Careline & Trauma

0800 567 567 Suicide Crisis Line (SADAG)

0800 50 20 26 Pharmadynamics Police and Trauma line

10111 SA Police Service – if all else fails they will help!

 

Please, no one enjoys picking up the pieces…

Drak Challenge

Over the weekend of 24th and 25th January, the little town of Underberg high up in the mountains of the Natal Midlands came alive with mountain bikers, white water kayakers, trail runners and of course the main reason, Canoeists!

 

Rescuetech, under the leadership of myself spent the weekend providing technical rescue support to Berg Medical for all of the events.

 

Day One:

Day one we found ourselves being dropped off on a farm called Wild Dog, where we were to make our way on foot to a rapid called Black Murray…

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Here is the team kitting up for the walk to Black Murray

The team was split into two, with two guys manning the mountain bike trail that had a seriously steep descent into the valley, and the other two guys manning a rapid as well as the mountain bike trail along side the river where it rode along a cliff.

Black Murray Rapid

Black Murray Rapid

The day was fairly uneventful out on the river with only a few minor mishaps in the rapid and a few mountain bikers taking tumbles.

Temperature however was not very forgiving with it sitting in the mid 30’s all day.

Once the last paddler had moved on through we packed up and headed to the finish line and that is when we had a real test.

We had been at the finish for a little over 30 minutes when a cyclist came racing into the medical tent telling us that a fellow had had collapsed on the course and was delirious and incoherent.

We jumped in a vehicle and raced off to the location, where we found a male cyclist on the verge of unconsciousness on the trail… A quick assessment ascertained that the rider had a severe onset of heat exhaustion and immediate medical attention was necessary.

We rushed the patient back to the finish area where we had arranged an IV bag to be prepped with drugs and waiting for our arrival. The patient was IV’d imediately upon arrival and placed on monitors to check vital signs. Core temp was 39 degrees and he had hypothermia and was burning up. We tried covering the patient in ice which didn’t really work.

It was at this stage we made a call to place the patient in a rescue basket and attach floats to it and place him in the river which had a steady water temp of 18 degrees. An hour and half of doing this in rotations completely stabilized the patient to the point that when we were finished with him he went home like nothing had happened!

Day Two:

For the second day, we were again taken out early in the morning and dropped off in the middle of nowhere.

This time at the highest point on the mountain bike route where the descent was really steep and rocky.

The drop off point on top of the mountain

The drop off point on top of the mountain

It became apparent really early on that this spot was going to get its fair share of sunlight and we were going to take a beating up there.

So before the riders came through we decided to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and organise some shade using whatever gear we could from inside our trailer…

Creating some shade using a camo net out my backpack and ropes

Creating some shade using a camo net out my backpack and ropes

And boy did we cook out there…

PP and Dan losing their clothing to try keep cool

PP and Dan losing their clothing to try keep cool

Fortunately the Sunday was a very quiet day on top of the mountain, and we headed back to the finish area with plenty time on hand to watch some of the paddlers complete the race.

All in all it was a great event to be at and a lot of coverage was received.

And over and above that we thank Euro Steel download (2) immensely for their generous donation to our organisation.

Rider Down…

On a hot Saturday morning in the beginning of January, what started out as a fun off road motorbike outing turned in a very long arduous wait followed by a testing few hours of endurance…

 

January 4, 2014, 11:00, a call for assistance is received by a group of off road rider, who tell operations phone that one of their friends has fallen and is injured in a very remote inaccessible area. They tell us that he doesn’t complain ever about falling off, but he is complaining about pain, so they very concerned.

Straight away the team is contacted and put on standby to assist in evacuating the injured biker.

Once the unit is assembled at the meeting point in Drummond, the search is set in motion to find the location of these riders. It was realised shortly thereafter that this was going to take a very long time and further assistance was put in motion.

Not very long thereafter, JNC helicopters based at Virginia had a helicopter in the air in-bound to a location in the Inanda Valley that was easily accessible for all to be briefed in the aerial search.

Virginia Flying School also came forward with an aircraft, this time a fixed wing which would provide overhead surveillance and high level spotting assistance.

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Relaying GPS Co-ordinates to the helicopter

Moments later we had a Robinson R44 on the ground ready to assist in lifting rescue technicians into the mountains.

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R44 on the ground.

Approximately 10 Minutes later, the helicopter had found the scene and was circling overhead to find a suitable place to touch down and drop off the paramedic on board.

Only 40 minutes after the helicopter had touched down did the first of the rescue vehicles make its way upon the scene. Followed by the remaining 2 vehicles a short while later.

The rescuers then had to hike 600 metres down a seriously steep slope to reach the patient, who by now had been lying in the sun for almost 3 hours.

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The scene half way down the slope.

Due to the fading light and the seriousness of the slope it was decided that it may be necessary to airlift the patient off the side of the mountain, and SAPS airwing was contacted.

Initially it was decided that the patient was to be slung underneath the helicopter on a long line, but due to the wind and the pilots discretion, it was decided that a hot load in the hover would be attempted first.

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Pilot getting into position for the hot load.

After one trial attempt the pilot came in for a successful pick up on the second attempt and returned to the top of the mountain with the patient on board the machine.

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Helicopter inbound with the patient.

Moments after the helicopter touched down and shut off, the patient was transfered into an awaiting ambulance where he was treated whilst the helicopter did three more trips onto the mountain side to fetch the equipment and rescue crew members.

From there the patient was transported to hospital via road where he was diagnosed with a shattered tibia and fibula as well as a dislocated shoulder and soft tissue injuries.

 

White Cross Campaign

Thursday 5th September 2013 turned into one nightmare of a night. For both emergency services and families, friends and victims of a horrific motor vehicle collision that left 22 dead and 30 injured.

A run away truck plowed through cars and mini bus taxi’s tearing them open and spreading the occupants over a 100m stretch before coming to rest on top of on of the vehicles involved.

This is the scene that met many paramedics, firefighters and rescue workers that night…

The scene of the collision.

The scene of the collision.

What was left of one of the vehicles...

What was left of one of the vehicles…

Working furiously to free trapped occupants

Working furiously to free trapped occupants

 

In response to this tragic and unnecessary loss of life on this stretch of road, Rescuetech and its members have launched what they have called “The White Cross Campaign”

What this means, is that on Saturday 14th September, Rescuetech members will do a silent and peaceful protest along the M13 carrying 22 White Crosses, which we will then erect one at a time at the scene in remembrance of each victim that lost their lives on that terrifying night.

white cross

Then, to sustain the impact of this we ask that the public join us with this initiative by making white crosses and placing them along the M13 between the Shongweni exit and Paradise Valley in remembrance of all the lives lost due to trucks on that road.

The appeal goes out to all and everyone who would like to get involved.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Make a wooden cross – any dimension
2. Paint it white
3. Join in the march against trucks on Saturday 14th September 2013
4. Once the march, and the vigil are over leave by exiting onto the M13
5. Find a safe place to stop out of harms way and install the cross in plain view of traffic.

We wish to keep the thought going, and remind drivers every day about the constant carnage on that stretch of road.

Join us, build a cross, make an impression!

white cross

The Bone Yard

There is a very good reason that this well known climbing site in Kloof Gorge is called “the Bone Yard”

Sunday 26 May 2013, a call for assistance comes in at 15:30 in the afternoon. A bunch of climbers have been climbing the routes at Bone Yard, and one of them, a young teenage female has whilst climbing had a fall and the jolt of the rope that caught her fall has caused some muscular and tendon injuries, rendering her in capable of climbing out of the gulley herself…

Fortunately there was a paramedic climbing with them at the time who ascertained that her injuries where not of a serious nature.

The unit dispatched and started assembling at the end of Watsonia road in Kloof, where the access to the Bone Yard is.

Rescuetech members started the journey to the gulley with basic gear to ascertain what sort of rescue we would be dealing with and what the condition of the patient was.

Upon arrival a safety system was set up on the cliff edge and some of the guys started with setting up the rope system to haul our patient out.

It was established that she had lower back and groin injuries that prevented her from walking, so a mechanical haul to the cliff top would be necessary!

Stretcher attached and safety in place, everyone is ready to begin the hauling

Stretcher attached and safety in place, everyone is ready to begin the hauling

With everything attached and ready, and with Luke manning the safety system and cliff edge command the patient could begin her ascent to the top.

Safety lines and Luke sitting on the edge above my position 2 metres below on a ledge

Safety lines and Luke sitting on the edge above my position 2 metres below on a ledge

With myself purchased on a ledge two metres down for the top of the cliff to assist in receiving the basket and medic on the way up and rotating them so that we could lift them over the edge the hauling began.

A little less than 20 minutes later and both paramedic and patient where at the cliff top!!

A short kilometre walk later the patient was at the ambulance ready to be transferred to hospital for further observation.

A little over two hours after arriving we were all packing up and making way to head off home! A job well done and a safe recovery of an injured climber complete.

The young lady remained in hospital over night for observation, and was diagnosed with ligament tears and soft tissue damage. Very fortunate to have gotten off so lightly in a climbing spot known to collect bones…

So… I got Married!

Its been a long time coming… But eventually about a year ago I plucked up enough courage to ask the girl in my life to marry me…

A year later, many hours of frantic planning, late nights making things, tying ribbons, gluing programs etc later the day arrived.

Welcome to the morning of the 7th April, 2013… and onwards…

 

Sunrise in Ballito on the morning

Sunrise in Ballito on the morning

The sing post that I put some hours into making for the reception area.

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The sign post to the venue

Underneath the Pergola we decided to have some fun around where tea and cake woudl be served and add to the atmosphere by including wedding photo’s from our guests as a talking point.

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Suitcase full of wedding photos.

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Gift table arrangement, with the Safe for gift cards that I found dated 1888 on the face plate.

040 seating plan

The seating plan, keeping with the theme of Elegant travel

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The cake and the toppers, creatively created by my gorgeous wife herself. Included are our two hounds, who couldn’t be left out of the day, even though they couldn’t be there.

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My Brother and I waiting for guests to arrive.

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Arrival of the Bride

058f(1)

Leaving the chapel afterwards.

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As per the deal, i was allowed to remove my tie after the chapel, so off it came

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Some much needed couch time, on the lawn of the venue.

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Grooms family picture.

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Photo with all the siblings. And in true style my brother being his normal fool around self…

From this point the day progressed into the reception and proceedings. So let the fun and games begin…

My Brother doing his speech.

My Brother doing his speech.

Father of the bride doing his speech

Father of the bride doing his speech

Father Daughter Dance, breaking tradition and doing that before the first dance

Father Daughter Dance, breaking tradition and doing that before the first dance

Displaying my story about tying a knot during my speech

Displaying my story about tying a knot during my speech

The DJ Table's decorations

The DJ Table’s decorations

Our First Dance to Dave Matthew's Band - You and Me

Our First Dance to Dave Matthew’s Band – You and Me

Then it begins... The groomsmen get together

Then it begins… The groomsmen get together

Into the Photo Booth we go and thats the end of all sanity

Into the Photo Booth we go and thats the end of all sanity

Time to leave... Sparkler send off

Time to leave… Sparkler send off

Off we go, in a 1977 Series 3 Short Wheel base Land Rover

Off we go, in a 1977 Series 3 Short Wheel base Land Rover

What a day it was… A lot of fun, and a lot of love…

 

Only thing we would have changed is that it wasn’t over so quickly…