NSRI Pink Buoy Project saves lives

The sea rescue service wins international award for installing buoys at 300 of SA's most dangerous swimming spots

14 November 2018 - 10:02 By Corey D Smith

The National Sea Rescue Institute has won an international award for its Pink Rescue Buoy Project, which has saved 15 lives since it was launched in 2017.

At an awards function in Norway on Saturday, the project won the 2018 International Maritime Rescue Federation award for innovation and technology.

NSRI Pink Buoy Project has saved 15 lives since being installed at 300 dangerous swimming spots in 2017
NSRI Pink Buoy Project has saved 15 lives since being installed at 300 dangerous swimming spots in 2017
Image: NSRI/Berend Maarsingh NSRI Knysna

The NSRI’s bright pink buoys have been installed at 300 of South Africa’s most dangerous swimming spots.

Each of them has detailed graphics on how to use the buoy and contact information for the closest sea rescue station, so that ordinary members of the public can use them.

Many would-be rescuers may drown themselves when trying to save others.

The NSRI said a typical scenario would be that someone would get into difficulty in the water and a well-meaning bystander would go in to help.

“Tragically the ‘helper’ is usually the person who may be most likely to drown.”

In the past, life rings were commonly placed in swimming areas for use in rescues, but this practice has died out and the number of drowning deaths has risen.

Though rescues worldwide use torpedo buoy flotation devices, like the ones used in the project, the concept behind the NSRI’s neon pink colour was based on the need for increased visibility and theft prevention.

Although some buoys have been stolen, the NSRI believes the saving of lives is what matters.

The NSRI’s head of Drowning Prevention, Andrew Ingram, was in Norway to receive the award and will be presenting the project at the annual meeting in Europe.

The Pink Rescue Project’s next phase is to get these buoys everywhere to keep incidents of drowning down.

Corey D. Smith is a senior sociology major attending Morehouse College and a part of the SIT Study Abroad programme with Round Earth Media.