– Edited b Bev Mortimer- In bad and hampering, foggy conditions, NSRI teams rescued a woman hiker, who was seriously injured on the Tsitsikamma Otter Trail close to the Eastern coast shoreline in South Africa.
Lodewyk van Rensburg of NSRI Oyster Bay station commander that is part of the St Francis area in the Eastern Cape, said the NSRI was alerted on 22 April at 2.14 pm to the news of an injured woman hiker about 14 km from the Storms River Mouth close to the shoreline. The woman’s hiking party had to leave her to reach their next camp, owing to developing fog conditions.
All Eastern Cape NSRI teams, including those from Oyster Bay, Eerste River, Storms River, Gariep, St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay, and Tsitsikamma National Parks had been on a training exercise at the time.
NSRI volunteer members suspended the training exercise and dispatched 4 NSRI rescue craft, JLT Rescuer, Spirit of Tsitsikamma, Rescue 36 Alpha and Rescue 37 Alpha, to rescue the woman.
When the craft arrived at the shoreline rough seas with 4 to 5 meter swells made it impossible to deploy NSRI rescue swimmers from the sea side to reach the woman.
Meanwhile, an SA National Parks off-road vehicle, crewed by Tsitsikamma National Park rangers, who are also NSRI crew members, had been dispatched from the land side to assist with the rescue.
This team reached the nearest access point and hiked 4 km across challenging, barely accessible terrain, slippery conditions, steep inclines and developing fog, to reach the woman. They reached her in an hour and are commended for their efforts.
During this time, NSRI commanders remained in contact with the woman via cell phone, providing reassurance to her as the rescue crew approached her location. Then other hikers on the trail reached the woman and provided assistance.
When NSRI crew and Tsitsikamma Park rangers reached the woman, they found her in good spirits despite her serious injury. She was medically stabilised.
Eastern Cape Government Health EMS Metro Control activated the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter and Private Care Ambulance Services had dispatched an ambulance to stand to the the Storms River Mouth campsite. Paramedics were winch-hoisted close to the woman and they provided medical treatment and further stabilised her.
She was then secured into a Stokes basket stretcher and airlifted to the helicopter and taken to the campsite, where she was then transferred to the ambulance and taken to hospital in a stable condition, in the care of paramedics.
NSRI says it is understood that the woman in recovering well in hospital. NSRI also commends everyone involved for their swift and coordinated response during this challenging rescue operation.
Photos: NSRI. See more photos: of the NSRI training and rescue at https://stfrancischronicle.com/2023/04/26/nsri-ec-teams-hold-epic-training-event/
Read other stories on NSRI and of interest on main page: https://stfrancischronicle.com