Search and Rescue: A behind the scenes look

These brave men and one woman are not only policemen, but each specialises in their own field of expertise comprising K9 unit, dive medic, skipper of the boat and search and rescue divers.

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When one hears about an angling competition at Loskop Dam, you think serenity, big fish, angling and time with friends. This is not the case for the men from Delta1 Rescue Diving and the SAPS Inland Water Wing. These men give up their free time to ensure the safety of the anglers and skippers on the dam. This past weekend and up until 14 February, it was the order of the day at an International event where teams from 17 countries including South Africa, are being hosted at Loskop Dam. To some it might sound a bit strange when the police have an Inland Water Wing, but with South Africa being water rich and having ample dams and rivers it should not come as a surprise. These brave men and one woman are not only policemen, but each specialises in their own field of expertise comprising K9 unit, dive medic, skipper of the boat and search and rescue divers. All this expertise combines into one unit, embodying professionalism, safety and teamwork. At any event these men and woman attend, they have the responsibility to ensure that there is no negligence, that safety and security rules and regulations are adhered to and that the boats competing are up to South African Maritime Law standards. Easy, you would think… A typical morning starts at around 04:00 am. It starts with ensuring that they have had enough rest, all equipment is checked for safety purposes on their boats and the skipper of each boat gives a safety briefing. There is also a diver on each boat with their equipment at the ready. The team also does spot checks and routine inspections on the competing vessels, should it be necessary. The two teams then launch their boats and start inspecting the dam to check that no boat goes where it is not supposed to and that the rules of the competition and South African Maritime Laws are abided by. With a team as well trained as this one and working together like a well-oiled machine, every member knows exactly what is expected of them and what their duties are. A diver? Why a diver at an angling competition? There are a few reasons for this: should a freak accident occur and someone falls unconscious into the water, the divers will immediately be able to save a life. The divers are also part of the safety measures for an event of this nature. The two divers from Delta1 Rescue Diving work hand in hand with the police in these situations. They are qualified search and rescue divers. The K9 unit members of the team do not have their dogs present as it is not a search and rescue operation, but they are qualified skippers and trained for any situation they should come across. Amongst the thorns is one rose: the only qualified woman officer trained in K9 rescue in Mpumalanga, also the first in South Africa. She is also one of their skippers and a force to be reckoned with. Seeing how this team stands together even though they do not work with each other on a day to day basis, their passion and love for what they do is an inspiration to all. Their selfless sacrifice to help others is highly commendable and a true testament of their commitment. I would like to thank Andries Lee from Delta1 Rescue Diving for inviting me to see and understand the intricate workings of this team. To Captain Grobler I would like to say thank you for allowing me to learn from you and your team. – Ané Prinsloo

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