Kouga Express

NSRI station wins award after challenging three years

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Members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 37, in Jeffreys Bay.
Members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 37, in Jeffreys Bay.
Photo: Rieg and AD Photography

Despite various challenges faced by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 37, in Jeffreys Bay, the volunteers at the station have continued to work hard and remain dedicated to their goals which has led them to recently receiving an award for the most improved station for 2021.

According to station commander, Paul van Jaarsveld, the station went through some big and rapid changes since they were awarded the best RIB station of the year award in 2018.

He said many of the stalwarts and leaders left the station permanently or went on a sabbatical owing to work-related commitments, relocation, retirement, or medical reasons.

In addition, with the onset of lockdown, they were restricted in their training and recruitment options, which made it extremely difficult to keep the momentum going.

Van Jaarsveld, who has been the station commander since March 2021, said he was in a fortunate position to lead the station during the end of the pandemic and post COVID-19 lockdown era as they were able to resume normal training and operations again.

“We have worked hard as a team to get some of the basics right and address some of our shortcomings and risks at the station,” said Van Jaarsveld.

After a turbulent three years, he said he believed that winning the award for the most improved station of the year 2021 meant that they were able to succeed in certain aspects and that they were on a good trajectory.

The award was handed over to the local station at the NSRI’s 55th annual awards evening in Knysna last month.

“There are many stations across the country, and we know awards like these are not handed out without serious deliberation, consultation, and recommendation by the awards committee. To be considered for an award like this is an honour,” said Van Jaarsveld.

He said the award was issued annually to the best performing NSRI station that has shown the most improvement on their status based on internal and external audits, procedures, administration, operations as well as education and training. Van Jaarsveld further said they were not where they wanted to be yet, but that they were working towards their goals for the station.

NSRI
Executive director of NSRI Rescue Services, Brett Ayres presented the award to NSRI Station 37 Station Commander Paul van Jaarsveld.

Despite the honour and privilege of winning the award, he said as volunteers they try to do their best with the resources they have at their disposal and do not strive for awards. Instead, they focused on enjoying their work as volunteers and making a difference in people’s lives.

“Our work in many ways is a thankless job, but we don’t do it for the praises of anybody. We do it because we enjoy it, we care, and we want to save lives. If we get an award that is simply a cherry on the cake, and some recognition for what we’ve been doing,” said Van Jaarsveld.

The local station currently has 43 members in total, which includes 21 coastwatchers who were not active crew members but were at the station regularly, while the rest consisted of shore crew, seagoing crew, trainees, surf rescue swimmers, administrative crew, as well as one junior member.

“I’ve been blessed with a strong crew, Kristo Kritzinger, as an awesome deputy commander and a team who stuck it out through hard times, as well as high quality candidates who will soon qualify as crew members.

“Our new trainee crew also adds a lot of momentum and excitement to the station,” said Van Jaarsveld.

To ensure that they continue their good work in the community, he said the station is always in need of new trainees and crew members.

  • For more information or to join the NSRI based in Jeffreys Bay e-mail the station on station37@searescue.org.za or contact them on their emergency number on 079 916 0390.
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