It takes a special kind of person to not only give up their time, but also risk their life for another.
At the NSRI in Jeffreys Bay, volunteers take it a step further. They do not sign up for two hours once a week, they commit to NSRI and agree to make themselves available to go at any time, any place, anyhow. They prioritise the needs of a stranger – they will leave a business meeting or their sister’s wedding or their son’s first rugby match.
Not only this, but in addition they agree to risk their lives. They will head out to sea in the worst conditions – when everyone else is heading home and battening down the hatches.
There are various ways to volunteer your time for sea rescue, with the first being Sea Going Crew. It is always beneficial, but not required for new sea going recruits to have a background in the marine environment and be familiar with the sea, radio operation, navigation and first aid, but if you are fit, healthy and eager to learn more, you can be put to good use.
The second area of involvement is shore crew, who assist with the administration of the base, as well as act as controllers for training exercises and rescue operations. This is best suited for people who want get involved, but prefer to stay on dry land.
The third area is coast-watchers, best suited for retired people who have a good view of the ocean from their homes. Coast-watchers are a vital part of the team, as they act as “spotters”.
All training sessions take place after hours, and standby for rescues is a 24/7/365 commitment best suited to people who live 10 minutes from the rescue base.
Volunteering is not glamorous work, but very rewarding. There is a lot of training and a whole lot of cleaning up involved.
It will be at least six months to a year before new volunteers will be ready for a real-life rescue. Crew members and trainees are also required to assist with fundraising.
For more information, contact NSRI Jeffreys Bay Station Commander Rieghard Janse van Rensburg at 071 896 6831