South Africa: NSRI Plettenberg Bay Volunteers Chosen as Finalists in the 2019 IMRF Innovation and Technology Awards

The Purpose Designed Rescue Stretcher with (picture centre): NSRI Plettenberg station commander, Marc Rodgers. (and picture left): the manufacturer of the rescue stretcher, Marcus van Deventer. (and picture right): NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain, Robbie Gibson.
7 August 2019
National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa
press release

Congratulations to our NSRI Plettenberg Bay volunteers for being chosen as finalists in the 2019 IMRF – International Maritime Rescue Federation’s Innovation and technology awards for their purpose designed rescue stretcher which was designed for coastline rock and surf patient extrication.

NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander Marc Rodgers and NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain Robbie Gibson will be winging their way to London on the 10th of September for the finalists awards luncheon.

NSRI Sea Rescue previously won the same category in 2018 for our Pink Rescue Buoys and in 2017 we were runners up in the team category for our NSRI Water Safety Education programme.

Below is an extract from the motivation that was sent to the IMRF for their consideration:

Purpose designed rescue stretcher for rock and surf patient extrication:

The National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa’s Station 14, Plettenberg Bay, on the East Coast of the country, has a unique patient extrication problem on a rocky stretch of their shoreline where the bulk of their rescues take place.

Regularly hikers in the Robberg Nature reserve are injured on the hiking trail and need to be carried back to the parking area or extricated by sea. The latter is often the preferred method as large parts of the reserve include narrow foot paths which navigate steep rocky sections.

Patient extrication by sea on a rocky stretch of coast that has substantial wave action is a specialist task that needs specialist training and equipment. The rescue vessels of choice in this area are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB’s) and jet skis.

With this in mind the Plettenberg Bay volunteers have pioneered a new design of floating stretcher that could be used over rocks and through surf to extricate a patient who has been immobilised.

The stretcher that was designed in 2018 / 2019 and used operationally for the first time in April 2019 has a number of unique features that could be utilised by other rescue services around the world:

  1.  It is a stable platform on which a casualty can be carried over rough terrain on narrow paths with ease.
  2. It will not capsize easily in surf.
  3. It carries a backboard with spider harness and head blocks that is easily removable.
  4. It is light weight and very strong so if damaged in operation it will not fail.
  5. It is a narrow design so that a patient can be carried on it on narrow footpaths.
  6. The shoulder strap design help the stretcher bearers take the weight of a patient.
  7. It has solid pontoon so that it can not be punctured and then fail.
  8. A rigid platform base that will allow CPR to be performed on it.
  9. A streamline platform to allow effective towing.
  10. A good towing eye and strap that can be quickly connected to a tow line while under stress in the surf.
  11. Suitable for use in swift water rescue.
  12. As comfortable as possible for the casualty while in the water with a hood that deflects surf.
  13. It should paddle like a SUP carrying two crew and be able to carry medical and rescue equipment in swift water and floods
  14. Have a storage compartment for medical equipment.
  15. The hull is of fibreglass with nylon skids protecting the underside when sliding over rocks.

To build such a craft designs from across the world were assessed and ideas from various designs were used as well as incorporating some completely new design concepts.

All of the above criteria was achieved and the final rescue platform came in at 20kg’s including a back board.

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