Baviaanskloof ‘emergency call’

Mountain Club of SA teams in mock rescue

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Members of the Eastern Province section of the Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue team spent five eventful days in the eastern Baviaanskloof in a mock search for a crashed aircraft.
This was at the national club’s annual training of members from the six regional sections of its search-and-rescue volunteer teams across SA.
From Wednesday to Sunday, the EP section of the club met up with members from five other regional sections – the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordinating Centre, the Scouts, HAMNET Emergency Communications, South African Air Force and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – for training on how to perform difficult search-and-rescue services on crashed aircraft and in deep kloofs. The mountain club is more than 100 years old.
“A huge part of this training event is for us to be able to work to together and know each other well enough to be ready to respond to any aircraft scenario, even in instances when one might need to call on rescuers from different regions,” EP section head of search-and-rescue Tim Jones said.
The EP section of the Mountain Club of South Africa has about 150 members, 20 of whom are search-and-rescue volunteers who assist in hiking and mountain bike accidents, aircraft crashes and other incidents across the province.
“Knowing you are offering a service to society that not everyone can offer, is what motivates me to continue with this work,” Jones said.
“We receive training in services that include walking to places which regular road rescue services, such as ambulances, would find difficult to access,” he said.
Jones has been a member of the club for more than 20 years and has seen his fair share of tragedies in the past eight years as a rescuer.
“There’s quite a lot to tell, but some of the most memorable rescues I’ve been involved in were assisting when a light aircraft crashed near Kareedouw a couple of years ago.
“Sadly there were some fatalities, but the pilot survived,” said.
Recently, he and his team assisted a woman who needed extraction following complications during a hike in the Bloukrans area.
The club assists emergency organisations across SA.
Longstanding member Magnus Wagener said: “Our primary responsibility is assisting professional rescuers who may be in danger while rescuing people.
“We are a group of professionals in other fields who dedicate time to this initiative.”
Over and above the annual cross-section training, EP section volunteers meet once a quarter for training with the air force.
The volunteers are responsible for providing their own search-and-rescue gear, and depend on donations and fundraising for equipment.
For emergencies, contact the EP section on 072-324-4985 or 073-755-2250.

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