Cycling to save more lives

2017-02-21 06:01
Some of the Station 8 members that will be tacking the Cape Argus Cycle tour to raise funds to buy protective equipment.

Some of the Station 8 members that will be tacking the Cape Argus Cycle tour to raise funds to buy protective equipment.

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Started in 1979 with a single ski-boat as a rescue vessel the Station 8 Hout Bay has gone from strength to strength saving lives of those that are stranded in the sea.

Station 8 Hout Bay is one of 35 national Sea Rescue (NSRI) stations in the country. It is located in Hout Bay Harbour and operates from Cape Point to Table Bay.

The station is manned by ­volunteers.

Over the years they have done well to save the lives of those in danger. One of their biggest incidents was when the sightseeing boat Miroshka capsized with 41 people on board near Duiker Island in 2013. Two people unfortunately lost their lives, but 39 people were rescued that day including three women who were trapped under the capsized hull for four hours.

Over the years they have managed to go around their duties through the help that they got through fundraising efforts and donations from the public or corporate sponsorships. Now they have hit rock bottom and they are pleading for help so that they can buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes jumpsuits, lifejackets, wetsuits, helmets, booties and foul weather gear. They are in dire need of PPE so that they can do their work effectively.

Paul Leong says safety is the highest priority at NSRI and therefore all crew have to wear.

“Because we often operate in very harsh conditions, ongoing maintenance is required and gear and equipment often needs to be replaced. However, because we rely on donations if we don’t have the funds we simply have to do without,” he says.

Having the protective clothing is t is vital to their safety and they cannot operate without it.

“While we have the right type of equipment at our base, we do not have enough for each person and equipment has to be shared. This means that equipment fatigues more quickly and sometimes crew members have to make do with equipment that isn’t the right size for them because there is no ­alternative.

“Our current need is to be able to equip all our crew with personal lifejackets, wetsuits and helmets, rather than have to share what resources we have. Ideally, each crew person should have their own wetsuit and safety equipment that is the right size for them. If we can achieve this crew members will be able to operate more effectively. So we are putting a call out there for anything that can help us to do so,” says Leong.

Doing it out of passion, they put their lives in the line as there are many dangers associated with being at sea.

“This isn’t a job, it’s a passion because it’s something we do as volunteers. We all have full time careers outside of Sea Rescue. NSRI often operates in very adverse weather conditions because typically that is when emergencies occur. We can never really know the full situation until we are on scene and situations can escalate ­quickly.

“Anything can go wrong and there is always risk of hypothermia, fatigue or injury. This is especially true at night because the whole dimension of the sea changes when you can’t see everything around you,” adds Leong.

To help them raise funds for the much needed protective equipment seven of the Station 8 crew members will riding the Cape Town Cycle Tour and have set up a GivenGain profile to raise funds. They are still asking for more so that they will be able to get the equipment.

V To donate towards their protective equipment on GivenGain search for Station 8 – Hout Bay: Personal Protective Gear or call 082 990 5964.

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