Hero paramedic breaks burglar bars with his hands to save family from flood

2016-11-10 13:37
Floods in Gauteng. (File)

Floods in Gauteng. (File)

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WATCH: People missing after flash floods soak Gauteng

2016-11-10 09:03

Seven people are believed to be missing after their vehicles washed away, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department said on Wednesday night.WATCH

Johannesburg - As parts of Gauteng faced severe flash flooding on Wednesday, one paramedic told News24 about how he broke burglar bars with his bare hands to rescue a woman, her five children and, later, an elderly neighbour.

Advanced life support paramedic Avi Lange, 32, spoke to News24 on Thursday, while continuing rescue efforts in the aftermath of the floods.

He said he had been returning to base when the flooding unexpectedly hampered his movement.

"I had responded to a motor vehicle accident and was on my way back to base, but every road I travelled down was flooded. It was crazy."

While overlooking one of the flooded areas near the suburb of Orchards, Lange said he was approached by a man who said his wife and kids were trapped in their nearby home.

"You could see he was worried and in need of urgent assistance."

Going in

READ: Girl, 3, still missing after Joburg floods - city

Lange said the home was located in a complex next to a water drainage system that had overflowed.

"When I went into the complex, it was clear that the two units at the bottom were affected the worst."

Lange said that, with the help of a member of the public, he had first assisted two women and a dog.

"The member of the public at this point waited on the top with them."

Lange said when he got near the second unit, he noticed the woman with her five kids. At this point, Lange could only communicate with them from a window.

"I could not get inside. They were on top of a bunk bed. I tried to calm them down. They were panicked and hysterical."

A surge of adrenaline

Lange said that while he was at the window, a piece of driftwood nudged his back. To him, this was a stroke of luck.

"I got them to move away from the window and smashed it."

Lange then summoned what he described as "just adrenaline" and removed the burglar bars.

"I pulled the burglar bars off the window. I don’t how, but I made a plan and did it."

Lange said he then pulled the woman and children out one by one.  

"The husband was there and he was relieved. We found a bean bag chair floating and propped two of the kids on it."

'This is what I do'

Lange said that once he got to the road, onlookers informed him that there was still an old woman in an adjacent unit.

"I managed to make contact with this old lady and get her out as well."

When asked what he felt during the rescue, Lange said: "This is my passion, this is what I do. I am passionate about rescue. The reason I do what I do is to help people. I am lucky that I have the ability to do it. I didn’t even think – I heard that somebody was in danger and I went into action."

Here're the floods problems areas:

Read more on:    gauteng  |  floods

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