25 years to give others second chances at life

2017-07-11 06:02
NSRI Strandfontein station commander Vaughn Seconds.PHOTO: samantha lee

NSRI Strandfontein station commander Vaughn Seconds.PHOTO: samantha lee

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He has dedicated a quarter century to putting his own life on the line to save others.

Vaughn Seconds, NSRI Strandfontein station commander, was recently awarded for his service as an honorary life member following his 25 years as a volunteer of the NSRI.

“I was part of the lifesaving club at 9miles beach and always saw the guys training along the beach. At the time there was only the one boat shed and they had two boats crammed into the space. Sometimes I would watch them starting up the boats and taking them out and I fell in love with boats,” says Seconds.

He joined the NSRI as a junior crewman and quickly worked his way up to coxswain (skipper). He led many missions.

He was promoted to station commander in 2000 and served until 2006. At this point he decided he needed to leave the NSRI and only returned a few years later to head up coxswain training.

The training that should have lasted a year has resulted in a second term as station head for Seconds.

“I have watched the station develop and grow. So many crew members have come and gone and some of the crew are here for more than 10 years but only two of us have reached this mark. I have spent a lifetime at the station and have many memories here,” says Seconds.

Seconds was recently honoured at the NSRI’s long service awards ceremony.

As part of his 25 years as a volunteer one of his fondest memories happened while he volunteered as part of the Skymed crew.

“We were part of the air sea rescue unit. The helicopter was called out to attend to a call of two brothers who had been blown out to sea while fishing on their father’s boat at Rooi Els beach. I got into the helicopter and we flew looking for them,” says Seconds.

After a short flight, they spotted the two brothers.

“It was such a sight to see. We saw the brothers sitting in the boat, while the boat was completely under water. One of them was unconscious. We had a nurse on board and had to drop her on the beach before we could rescue them.

“I remember jumping into the water to get them and the boys had gathered all their belongings into rucksacks. I swam to the boys and had to strap them to me. They did not want to lose their belongings but they had to leave it behind,” he says.

“I swam the boys out so that they could be airlifted to a nearby beach where the emergency care services were waiting to treat them. I remember landing at the beach and the boys were taken to the ambulances.

“I was removing my gear when I got a tap on my shoulder. It was one of the boys and all he said was: ‘Dankie.’ In this job we save a life and then forget about it, but that moment really touched me,” says Seconds.

He says of all the awards he has won, this acknowledgement is by far the greatest.

He adds that although there is more to sea rescue than lifesaving, he encourages anyone interested to become a volunteer.

“Here we are like a family. We watch each other’s backs and we know that someone has your back. We have issues like any family but we leave it on the beach before we go out there,” says Seconds.

“In sea rescue we are giving people a second chance at life and it is nice to be a part of that. I am proud to be a part of this for 25 years.

“Even though it does not seem that long, it is nice to be acknowledged for something that I am still doing and a part of.”

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