Plett sea rescue duo win international acclaim for their floating stretcher

11 September 2019 - 08:15 By TimesLIVE
Stretcher manufacturer Marcus van Deventer, with the NSRI's Marc Rodgers and Robbie Gibson.
Stretcher manufacturer Marcus van Deventer, with the NSRI's Marc Rodgers and Robbie Gibson.
Image: NSRI

A floating stretcher designed by National Sea Rescue Institute volunteers has won international acclaim.

The rescue device, developed by the Plettenberg Bay NSRI station commander and coxswain, Marc Rodgers and Robbie Gibson, came second in the International Maritime Rescue Federation innovation and technology awards in London on Tuesday.

Marc Rodgers and Robbie Gibson after receiving their award in London on September 10 2019.
Marc Rodgers and Robbie Gibson after receiving their award in London on September 10 2019.
Image: IMRF

Last year, the NSRI won the same category for its pink rescue buoys.

Rodgers and Gibson developed the floating stretcher to tackle the challenges of rescuing people around rocks and in the surf on the Garden Route coastline.

“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,” said the NSRI motivation submitted in its entry for the awards.

“The latter is often the preferred method as large parts of the reserve include narrow footpaths 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.

“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 motivation said the 20kg stretcher:

  • Provides a stable but narrow platform on which a casualty can be carried over rough terrain on narrow paths;
  • Will not capsize easily in surf.
  • Carries a backboard with spider harness and head blocks that is easily removable;
  • Has shoulder straps to help bearers take the weight of a patient;
  • Has a solid pontoon so that it cannot be punctured and a rigid platform base so that cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be performed on it;
  • Paddles like a stand-up paddleboard carrying two crew.

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