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NSRI Plettenberg Bay volunteers win award for cliff and surf rescue stretcher

Lance Branquinho , Business Insider SA
 Sep 12, 2019, 08:51 AM
  • Two NSRI volunteers have won an international award for their design of a multifunctional rescue stretcher.
  • The stretcher was designed to deal with a particularly tricky stretch of coast near Plettenberg Bay.
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Two Plettenberg Bay National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) volunteers have been internationally honoured for the design of a rescue stretcher that can float.

NSRI station 14 commander Marc Rodgers and coxswain Robbie Gibson were commended at the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF)'s Innovation and Technology Awards in London this week for a design first used in April this year.

Their stretcher is light but strong, and can be used in many different ways, including as a platform for CPR.

The Plettenberg Bay area, despite its idyllic reputation, has some of the country’s wildest beaches. The Robberg Nature Reserve falls under station 14’s response area, and with its towering cliffs and rocky coastline, the risks to hikers who frequent its trails are very real.

Parts of the Robberg reserve include very narrow trail passages and if a hiker is injured, it is often preferable to evacuate them by sea, as opposed to carrying a stretcher along the trail.

See also: Pink South African rescue buoys have saved 43 lives since 2017 – and now Australia is interested in them

The NSRI station 14 team wanted a stretcher that would not capsize once it became waterborne, especially in the high-surf often present around Robberg. This was achieved by adding stability with floating pontoons, which are solid to prevent them from puncturing if the stretcher should fall on, or smash against, rocks.

Further design elements which make this South African floating stretcher design so clever are its fibreglass hull, which is surfaced with nylon skids. These protect the stretcher’s structure when sliding it over rocks as patients are transferred from the shore to surf zone.

Stretcher manufacturer Marcus van Deventer, Plettenberg Bay station commander Marc Rodgers, and coxswain Robbie Gibson. (NSRI)

An integrated splash hood keeps water and direct sunlight off an evacuee.

The station 14 design was turned to reality by Marcus van Deventer.

This is the design that won Rodgers and Gibson second place in the 2019 IMRF awards in London, in action.

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