GARDEN ROUTE NEWS – When you think of the women and men who volunteer for the NSRI, including the team of Wilderness Station 23, you may think of fit, young people who thrive on adrenaline and enjoy riding in boats. A look out onto the stormy and cold ocean during the winter months suggests reality may be different.
Every single member of the Wilderness team is a volunteer and always on call – in the full knowledge that their lives may be in danger. To be able to join up members are evaluated and then undergo very stringent training. They have to adhere to the strictest rules. The team operates as a professional, coordinated and thoroughly trained emergency rescue service to our community.
Volunteers are ordinary folk
Michael Vonk, deputy station commander of Station 23 Wilderness, explains who typically volunteers. “Our team comprises average people from all walks of life, who have families and children, who work every day and deal with all the usual commitments of life. They have one thing in common – a strong desire to assist people who require help as a result of water-based incidents and emergencies. When a call comes through, they will drop everything to get to the scene or to our Wilderness beach-based station.”
The Wilderness team includes land-based support crew, supporting volunteers who help with everything from maintenance to fundraising, trainee crew, qualified crew and coxswains. All crew members undergo a screening period and, if selected, work through theoretical and practical training programmes including seamanship, maritime knowledge, radio license, rescue techniques, at least Level 3 first aid, firefighting, boat / outboard maintenance and more. Some crew go on to specialise, operating as rescue swimmers, helicopter crew or coxswains.
“Our close-knit team sometimes becomes very deeply involved in the trauma and grief of casualties and their families, and yet have to remain focused at all times. On the other hand, there can be few moments more rewarding than helping someone in need or saving a life,” says Vonk.
Looking for volunteers
Wilderness NSRI is currently looking for volunteers. Contact Mike Vonk or Garth Dominy on 082 990 5955 if you are interested. All applicants will go through screening before being accepted into NSRI’s training programme.
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