A quick-thinking man from Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape has used a pink rescue buoy at the beach to help save two teenagers who were swept out to sea, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said on Tuesday.
Lodewyk van Rensburg, the commander of the NSRI Oyster Bay station, said three teenagers, three children and their uncle were caught in rip currents while swimming on Monday afternoon.
"The uncle, the three children and one of the teenagers were not too deep when they were caught in the rip current and they managed to escape the rip current and get safely out of the water. But two of the teenagers, both aged 14, were swept out to sea," he said.
The uncle, Ricardo Kettledas, 29, instructed the children to grab the NSRI pink rescue buoy for him and then jumped into the water with it to save one of the teenagers and take him back to shore.
The teenager was unconscious and showed signs of non-fatal drowning symptoms.
"When I arrived on the scene, I placed that teenager in the recovery position and I was informed of one teenager still missing in the surf," said Van Rensburg.
"Knowing that additional sea rescue crew were almost arriving, I left the teenager in the recovery position in the care of the other boys while myself and Ricardo launched into the surf and at the backline we were able to reach the remaining teenager who was lifeless in the water."
Assisted bystander rescues
Using the pink rescue buoy, the men brought the second teenager to shore. Van Rensburg then performed CPR on him and he was able to restore his breathing and pulse.
Paramedics arrived and transported both teens to hospital, the first in a serious condition and the second in a critical condition.
"It has been confirmed that the second teenager remains in ICU and he remains in a serious condition in hospital after he was transferred to a Port Elizabeth hospital."
The NSRI thanked Kettledas for his actions.
NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said this brought to 56 the number of successful assisted bystander rescues to date on the South African coastline, since the pink buoy project started in co-operation with local municipalities, donors and sponsors in late 2017.
They are hung on strategically placed signs in the hope it reminds people to take care when entering the water and not swim if lifeguards are not on duty.
The signs explain how to use the buoys as an emergency flotation device. It also provides a contact number for the closest emergency service and sea rescue station.
Those who would like to get involved with the project can sponsor a buoy.