The quick action of two lifeguards, on holiday in Sedgefield from the Channel Islands, saved the life of a 29-year-old man. The man must surely have had a guardian angel watching over him – because there was not only ‘passers-by’ to raise the alarm AND two visiting life-guards coincidentally on the scene, but other medical personnel who also just happened to be in the vicinity.
Garth Dominy, NSRI Wilderness Duty Controller, reported that at 19h29, Monday, 29th January, NSRI Wilderness duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a drowning in progress in the surf off Myoli Beach, in front of Pili Pili Restaurant, Sedgefield.
Angelika Freiwald and daughter Kirsten had been walking along the beachfront, when they saw a man in trouble in the surf, seemingly being swept out to sea by strong rip currents. Dillon, a young lad who had been swimming with the man, was on the beach screaming for help.
The women ran into the restaurant to raise the alarm. and the two young visiting lifeguards, Finlay Whitmore and Ben Ralph, rushed down to the beach and into the surf to his aid.
Meanwhile another bystander had taken the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Flotation Buoy to the water’s edge, but by that stage the two UK lifeguards had already hauled the casualty, a 29-year-old Johannesburg resident Mtupuzi Thakatha onto the sand.
When NSRI’s Warren Page and Conrad Potgieter arrived on the scene they found the exhausted Thakatha on the beach in the care of the two British lifeguards. They quickly fetched the medical jump bag and oxygen from the NSRI Wilderness auxiliary station container in Sedgefield. At that time Ryan Childs, a blind BAA medic from Cape Town who had been on the beach with family members, offered his assistance, and between them they commenced medical treatment for non-fatal drowning symptoms.
Then another bystander arrived to assist:- Dr. Sheryl Rajpaul, a young recently qualified medical doctor who had been eating dinner at the Restaurant at the time. Between the doctor, Childs the BAA medic, the two NSRI crew members and the two British lifeguards, the patient was in good hands and was soon stabilised.
When ambulance services and the Fire and Rescue team arrived Thakatha was further assessed, but by that stage he was feeling much better and declined transportation to the hospital. He was strongly advised to see a doctor as a precaution for secondary drowning.
NSRI commended the ladies who raised the alarm, the two lifeguards, the Cape Town ambulance medic and Dr. Sheryl Rajpaul for the selfless assistance given.
Picture by Kirsten Freiwald: Angelika Freiwald (in peach shirt) flanked by the two UK lifeguards Finlay Whitmore and Ben Ralph, with the recovered Mtupuzi Thakatha standing to the right and a relieved young Dillon, in front.