PORT Alfred National Sea Rescue Institute station 11 held an open day to celebrate 50 years of sea rescue service in South Africa.
Station commander Juan Pretorius welcomed guests who included Port Elizabeth NSRI station commander Ian Gray and Ndlambe Municipality chief traffic officer Fred Cannon and SAPS media spokeswoman Captain Mali Govender.
“We have a great response there out on the water. Thanks to the guys who have put in the hours,” said Pretorius.
He spoke on the inception of NSRI, and the tragic water accidents that occurred which highlighted the need for a sea rescue operation.
Currently NSRI has thousands of volunteers at 38 stations including five inland stations, with 85 rescue vessels and 28 rescue vehicles.
“We don’t draw salaries, we save NSRI about R380-million in salaries,” said Pretorius.
He told of the success that the NSRI Water Wise programme has had, with instructors teaching children about water dangers and safety, how to preform CPR and to help others who find themselves in water danger.
With over 2 000 drownings a year, 600 of which are of children, the Water Wise programme had become a major part of prevention education implemented by sea rescue.
Pretorius said over a million children have participated in the Water Wise programme and that it is very active in the Eastern Cape.