Volunteer unit saves truck driver

2014-05-27 00:00

DURBAN’S elite volunteer rescue unit — due to be honoured by rugby legends at a critical fund-raising event on Thursday — pulled off another precarious rescue yesterday, when they saved the life of a truck driver who plunged off a Mariannhill bridge.

Russel Meiring, of ER24, said two trucks dropped roughly 20 metres off the N3 Shongweni bridge after one rear-ended the other, leading to one driver being trapped in his cab in the canyon.

Six members of Rescuetech — businesspeople with mountaineering, para­medic and recovery skills — abandoned their commuting plans to rush to the scene and set up an “A-frame” harness to abseil to the victim and lift the rescue litter.

Jon Sargood, chairperson of the group, said, “SAPS search and rescue were on scene, but we were able to assist in raising the litter to the bridge.”

Last week The Witness revealed Rescuetech’s dire financial crisis, which recently saw their cash resources dropping below R3 000 — while its nine full-time members must replace their own life-saving gear and train three new rescuers.

However, a number of organisations have rallied to support them, including SA CAN — which serves as their “incident management centre” — and the Durban Aviation flight school, which is hosting a public fund-raising breakfast on Thursday at Greyville racecourse.

Rugby greats Gary Teichmann, Ian McIntosh and Hugh Bladen will head an “All things rugby” panel at the event, together with an unnamed superstar.

Meanwhile, the Robin Hood Foundation yesterday announced its support for Rescuetech, through the Forest 10 km fun-run in Forest Hills on July 6.

And Chris Grobbellaar, new senior instructor pilot at the flying school, unveiled a photograph he said would be auctioned on behalf of the volunteer unit at the event.

The image shows a rare, World War Two-era Dakota after a Durban thunderstorm.

Referring to Rescuetech, Grobbellaar said, “It’s amazing what these guys do for the community with all the hazards they face, completely unpaid.

“It’s great to be able to support them.”

• Tickets for the All Things Rugby fund-raising breakfast — costing R300 per person or R3 000 per table — as well as donation details are available through Ricky Smit at ricky­smit@mweb.co.za, or 083 231 6458.

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