Rescue service praises divers, drivers, security, medical and rescue personnel who return to base ‘filthy and exhausted’, but never complain
It has been two weeks since emergency services from across South Africa have been hard at work in KwaZulu-Natal following recent heavy rains and flooding that left a trail of destruction in the province. What we have seen from the outside is just that, from the outside, those working on the frontlines are living it. START Rescue, one of the many emergency services that have been working in flood-stricken areas while still attending to normal everyday emergencies, shared what it has been like over the past two weeks. Over the weekend, START Rescue spokesperson, Warren Brauns, said Friday was another day that had ended after 35 call-outs which included six recoveries of “lost souls who have been reunited with their families”. Brauns said although devastating, the past two weeks had brought together the services and the comradery of the various rescue teams from all over the country, which has ‘simply been amazing’.
These were the Police, Metro Police, Air Force, Army, Navy, fire brigade, doctors, surgeons, vets, private organisations and civilian volunteers. Teams behind the scenes ‘also worked like crazy supplying coffee and snacks’. “A lot of the rescue team members are already on antibiotics due to working in contaminated conditions,” Brauns said.
“Aircrafts are hitting the limits of serviceability and not a single complaint from anyone!” Our days start with smiles all around. Handshakes and "well done" are continuously shared throughout the day.”
“Divers, drivers, medical and rescue personnel return back to base filthy and stinking, with tired grins, gratefully accepting an Energade, bottle of water or a snack,” Brauns explained.
He said there were physiotherapists massaging sore muscles yet the rescuers kept going, grabbing some sustenance to prepare themselves for the next call.
Members helped carry equipment and whatever is needed to go. Controllers log every call, every flight, take-off time, arrival time, when teams leave and return, results, statistics and paperwork.
“Every single task has been completed with 100 percent commitment and not one unkind word,” Brauns said.
“At some stage you find yourself walking among the exhausted members handing out drinks. Encouraging them to get rehydrated. Not a frown, not a moan. The incredible effort shown by every single emergency member has shown a whole new side of emergency services in this country.”
He said those professionals had worked non-stop without a day off. “Members who have put their own lives on hold, even in their time of need, still complete operations and at the end of a rescue quietly ask if they can be excused. This is the calibre of people we are all working with! The respect and passion has never been more clear than what has been experienced in the last two weeks,” Brauns said.
He ended off by quoting Dick Winters, “I am no hero but I worked in the company of heroes.”
“Tomorrow we start again,” Brauns said.