At the The National Sea Rescue Institute‘s 2015 AGM held today at the Rotunda, Bay Hotel in Cape Town this evening a number of awards were handed out, which included long service awards for volunteer crew, awards for service to NSRI, and four awards for remarkable rescues carried out by NSRI volunteers, the SA Navy and a Grade 8 Knysna school pupil.
This year, two of the highest awards given by NSRI were made to volunteer Sea Rescue crews from Port Elizabeth (Gallantry Bronze) and Bakoven (Gallantry Silver).
The Bronze Gallantry Award was awarded to Stephen Van Den Berg from Station 6 Port Elizabeth and Daniel Heimann, previously from Station 6 Port Elizabeth and now at NSRI HQ.
Stephen and Daniel went to the rescue of surfskier Clinton Hempel, on 1 November 2014, at Sardinia Bay. Clinton had paddled with friends from Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, to Sardina Bay. The conditions deteriorated during the paddle and he fell off his surfski near to the take out beach. Separated from the group and unable to remount his surfski he became seriously hypothermic. Although he managed to hold onto the ski he was unable to help himself in any other way.
Clint Hempel, 48, from St Francis Bay was lost to his fellow paddlers in mist, rough sea swells of 3 meters and a steady 25 knot South Easterly wind.
After the NSRI responded Hempel was spotted three quarters of a nautical mile West of the groups intended landing spot and he appeared to be in the water, hanging onto his surf ski, and drifting rapidly towards a reef and breaking wave sets.
In a rough and confused sea state, the sea rescue craft reached the man who was in breaking surf sets and tried to rescue him but the first rescue effort was aborted to avoid breaking waves. It was clear that the man was in a critical hypothermic state with his hands frozen in a vice grip to his paddle board. He was unresponsive to verbal instructions. On a second run rescue effort the sea rescue crew reached him (still clinging to his paddle board but unresponsive) and prized the injured man’s hands free of his surf-ski and forcibly rescued him onto the sea rescue craft with only seconds to spare before being battered by an incoming set of breaking waves. Once on the sea rescue craft treatment commenced for severe hypothermia while the sea rescue craft raced to shore through extremely rough sea. The casualty, in severe pain from hypothermia, and in a critical condition was brought to shore where he was loaded onto the NSRI sea rescue vehicle on the beach and driven to the parking area where he was loaded into a GardMed ambulance.
Treatment for severe hypothermia continued in the ambulance and Clint Hempel was transported to hospital in a critical condition where doctors continued to fight to save his life. Following an extensive rewarming procedure Mr. Hempel’s condition stabilised and although he remained in a serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit of St Georges Life Health Care Hospital, with his wife at his side, doctors were confident that of a full recovery.
Full List of Awards Presented:
- Silver Gallantry Award: Johnny Albert, Jeremy Joseph Godfrey and Alex Ryan Albert all from Station 2 Bakoven – For the rescue of 18 year old Shane Keenan who was entangled in his kite lines and being swept towards rocks off Glen beach, Camps Bay, by a huge ground swell and a 50 knot South Easter on 19th January 2015.
- The Bronze Gallantry Award was awarded to Stephen Van Den Berg from Station 6 Port Elizabeth and Daniel Heimann, previously from Station 6 Port Elizabeth and now at NSRI HQ.
- Chairman’s Letter Of Appreciation: SAS Isandlwana Captain and crew for rescue of 6 crew on yacht Bille – On the 7th January 2014, SAS Isandlwana responded to the stricken Angolan yacht Bille taking part in the Cape to Rio Yacht race approximately 100 miles NW of Saldanha Bay. Using a small inflatable the SAS Isandlwana’s crew went to the rescue of the six crew members of the stricken dismasted yacht. Unfortunately the seventh crew member of the yacht died when the yacht was dismasted in the storm prior to the arrival of the rescue team.
- Waterwise Academy Recognition Award: Devon Dodd, a Grade 8 pupil at Oakhill School in Knysna, was surfing at Buffalo Bay on Freedom Day, April 27 when he noticed a swimmer in distress and he rescued the man, who’s name he never found out, using his surfboard as a floatation aid. It is the first time that this award has been made.
- Marmion Marsh Award: Billy Harker – In 2006, following a long search by air and sea units in foul weather conditions, in fading light, the NSRI eventually found and saved the life of surfskier Casper Kruger. Race organiser Billy Harker approached the NSRI about starting a surfski paddlers fundraising project.
- Alric Simpson Award: Captain Kieron Cox for his quite remarkable contribution over the past 29 years to the training of NSRI crew. The concept was simple: a R25 per month debit-order campaign marketed into the surfski community and ring fenced to fund Sea Rescue boats around the country.
- Directors Thanks: Hendrik Josias Henn – Station 17 Hermanus on the occasion of his standing down from the position of station commander of Station 17, Hermanus, on the 14 April 2015 after 26½ years in the post – and for staying on as operational crew.
- 20 Year Long Service Awards: Laurent Eray – Station 14 Plettenberg Bay, Nazeem Abrahams – Station 16 Strandfontein, Gavin Fordham – Station 19 Richards, Bay, Michael Saunders – Station 25 Hartbeespoort Dam, Geoff Harris – Station 9 Gordons Bay, Lynne Harris – Station 9 Gordons Bay
- 25 Year Long Service Awards: Dr. John Donald – Station 14 Plettenberg Bay, Andre Fraser – Station 15 Mossel Bay, Marion Spencer – Station 17 Hermanus
- 30 Year Long Service Awards: David Robins – HQ Director And Station 3 Table Bay
- 35 Year Long Service Awards: Roger Clancy – Station 12 Knysna, Phil Ress – Station 3 Table Bay, Michael Clark – Station 17 Hermanus
- 40 Year Long Service Awards: Brad Geyser – HQ, Stn 2 Bakoven & Station 8 Hout Bay, Rob Stirrat – HQ and Stn 3 Table Bay, Ian Wienburg – HQ and Stn 3 Table Bay
- 45 Year Long Service Awards: Ian Strachan – HQ, Stn 9 Gordons Bay
- Most Improved Station Award: Station 20 Shelly Beach
- Best Rib Station Award: Station 2 Bakoven
- Best Class 1 Station Award (Pat O Sullivan): Station 10 Simon’s Town.
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