SA 'ill-equipped' for helicopter evacuations from sea

2015-09-01 14:42

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Parliament - South Africa is not sufficiently equipped to evacuate sick or injured people by helicopter from some 12 000 ships that pass its coastline every year, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport heard on Tuesday.

“There is only one SA Air force pilot on the South African coastline that is licenced to land on a vessel at sea,” National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson told the committee during a presentation.

There was also insufficient aircraft to adequately respond to such emergencies, he said.

The same could be said for dealing with a local cruise ship disaster.

“If it happened again on the Transkei coast, we don’t have the helicopters.”

He was referring to the Oceanos cruise ship that sank off the eastern coast during a storm in August 1991. Sixteen helicopters, the majority from the SA Air Force, saved a few hundred passengers.

Robertson was addressing the committee following a letter he sent to it in July highlighting the “unacceptable risk” of medical evacuations by boat.

The NSRI's volunteers performed around 70 such evacuations every year, but two safety incidents had highlighted the need for suitable alternatives.

On May 11 this year, a helmeted crew member on a boat alongside a ship narrowly missed hitting his head on the ship’s attached gang plank, due to swells.

In another incident, a boat was sucked under the stern of a ship into the propeller wash, crushing the superstructure.

Re-training

Robertson said the SA Air Force was best placed to meet the country’s international responsibility to provide maritime rescue because of its existing footprint.

But it would have to be properly equipped with maintenance contracts and training.

“I think what could be done is to re-configure the fleet and re-distribute the Oryx helicopters to the coast. Inland pilots could be re-deployed to the coast and re-trained,” he said.

“I think training them up to land on sea wouldn’t be a difficult task and wouldn’t take an extraordinary amount of time.”

The “second prize” would be to have a private sector national coastal provider with two aircraft ready to fly.

Committee chair Dikeledi Magadzi said they would need to correspond with the treasury, health and defence departments.

“One life lost is one life too many… we would like to see something happening,” she said.

Read more on:    nsri  |  johannesburg  |  maritime  |  aviation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
23 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
ADVERTORIAL
Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

/Sport
 

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:

 
 

You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.