Members from HAMNET Western Cape were involved with a number of rescues over the festive period.
On the 1 January 2017, Matt Feinstein (ZS1MTF) responded to a call for a dehydrated patient on Platteklip Gorge. Matt secured the landing zone (LZ) at Kloofnek parking to allow Skymed 1 to operate in the area. The patient was extracted and taken to hospital.
On the 4 January, Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) and Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC), responded to a call for a patient that had fallen in the Elsie Peak area. This is located around the Fishoek are of Cape Town. A suitable LZ was sought and it was decide to hold this at the Fishoek Provincial Hospital as no other suitable area could be found. The call was only received quite late and the rescue crew had to operate quickly as the light was fading. It was decided to extract the patient with a screamer suit to allow for faster operations. At the same time a call for a patient in difficulty on Platteklip Gorge was received and Liz Southey (ZS1XS), Ian Stainbridge (ZS1OSK) and myself (ZS1GS) responded. This was Ian’s first call so we welcome him to the list of responders. The patient was walked out and brought down by the cable car and was taken away with private transport.
On the 8 January 2017, Ian (ZS1OSK) responded on his own to a call for assistance with a party of 5 requiring help. The party was made up of 2 adults and 3 children. They were mobile but were out of water and were uninjured. Ian manned Metro 1 at the Jeep Track and by sunset the party were safe off the mountain.
I wish to thank all the members involved throughout out the entire holiday period for their support and efforts. It is appreciated by myself and the management of Metro.
At around 20:30 a call came in for a 20 year old female who was overdue in the Newlands Forest area. I (Grant ZS1GS) responded for logistical support and arrived on scene at 21:00. The female and her family were visiting from Gauteng and she had spent the afternoon alone hiking in the area. She was in cellular contact with her mom and had sent her an image of her location but did not arrive back at the expected time. While a search manager was interviewing the mother of the patient, a second call for a male lost on the Houtbay side came through. This meant that the teams that had gathered were split and some sent to Houtbay while some remained at Newlands forest to search for the missing lady.
The Houtbay call was on Kabonkelberg and the patient had comms via cell phone with the incident commander. He was advised to reserve the battery life for when help was closer so that he could be located easier. Phil Van Den Bossche (ZS1VCC) and Jason Codd (ZS1ZW) were deployed as logistic operators to assist with this rescue.
In the meantime 5 teams of around three people each were sent through the forest to locate the missing lady. From the image that was sent to her mother it appeared that she was at the contour path 2 hours before her last contact with her mother. Further information from a trail runner showed that she was higher than expected and a team was rerouted to the area and ultimately found her shaken and injured but still able to walk herself out most of the way home but she was piggy-backed out the last stretch, which happened via Tafelberg Road. She was transported back to Newlands Forest where she was reunited with her family.
At around the same time the patient on Kabonkelberg was reached and he too was in a precarious situation and required the assistance of technical rescuers to get him to safety. He was brought down from the mountain and all parties stood down around 05:00.
These two incidents could have turned out with tragic consequences as the weather was becoming worse and during the night some rain was experienced. Thanks to everyone involved.
At around 08:15 a call came through for a patient that had fallen 20-30 meters on Lionshead. Matt Feinstein (ZS1MTF) and Grant Southey (ZS1GS) responded as LZ operators and reported to Kloofnek. Fortunately the parking had not yet filled up and was still suitable for use as a landing zone. Matt secured the LZ with the help of SANPark Rangers.
Skymed flew in and inserted a rescue technician and medic into the field before landing at Kloofnek. The technician and medic took about 20 minuted to secure the patient and treat him on a dangerous slope before calling for Skymed to extract them. The patient and medic were hoisted out and brought to the LZ where the patient was handed over to a commercial ambulance company, whilst Skymed returned to the field to collect the rescue technician.
The rescue went according to plan and no notable issues arose. The patient suffered back and rib injuries but was fortunate in that he did not have a vertical fall but rather slid 20-30meters and was able to grasp at vegetation to slow the fall.
Saturday 12 November was the turn of this years 6th group of grade 9 scholars from Somerset College to hike the Landroskloof section of the annual Somerset Trek. Each year, members of the HH section of the Mountain Club of South Africa accompany the learners on this section of their adventure. On Saturday, Johann Wiid ZS1JHW, was one of the two rescue team members accompanying the group.
The group departed the MCSA Johnson Hut at around 7am in cool conditions. About two and a half hours into the hike, one of the learners sustained a knee injury that prevented her from continuing or turning back. The standard rescue plan was immediately activated by the two rescuers with the group. Luckily the group was still about 300m below the cloud level and so, after consultation with the EMS rescue manager on duty, the AMS Skymed rescue helicopter was recalled from and air-sea rescue exercise in Melkbosstrand and dispatched to the scene. Paul ZS1V responded to the WSAR callout sent by Johann ZS1JM, and secured a landing zone for the helicopter near the gates of the Vergelegen farm.
A technical rescuer and a paramedic were hoisted down to the patient. After consultation between Paul and Skymed, the LZ was moved to the Helderberg Nature Reserve. This is further away from the scene, but more familiar to the helicopter crew.
Since the weather was worsening, the remainder of the group of 20 hikers turned around and proceeded back down to the Johnson Hut. Unfortunately, a second hiker suffered an ankle injury on the way back down. After the first patient was extracted, the technical rescuer and paramedic were relocated lower down the kloof to prepare the second casualty for extraction.
The second patient, paramedic and technical rescuer were all subsequently extracted to the Helderberg Nature Reserve and a waiting ambulance transported the casualties to hospital. Standdown at 13.00.
On the 15 Oct 2016 members of the various WSAR affiliated groups attended a communication and navigation training exercise in the Helderberg region (Somerset West). This exercise was arranged and managed by Delta Search & Rescue in association with EMS (Winelands).
The exercise was controlled from the Metro 4 incident command vehicle (bus), and manned by Delta Search & Rescue, EMS personnel as well as by Matt (ZS1MTF) & Phil (ZS1VCC). Ground teams comprised 4×4 operators and on-foot rescuers (incl. K9s). Basic instructions and maps were provided to the ground teams at a briefing, but each team was purposefully not given a full set of instructions for their tasks. This necessitated each team to check in with Control and to be given precise instructions and coordinates for selected tasks over the radio network. This was to simulate a real search & rescue with multiple field teams over a wide area, and to assess the effectiveness of communications and the passing of critical messages in this environment.
During the later stages of the training exercise, Metro 4 received a real rescue callout (in the Helderberg region) from Metro Control. An elderly patient, whom was hiking with a group, was unresponsive and assistance was requested. All teams on training were asked to standby while the incident commander and his team assessed the situation and set in motion the rescue procedure. Some of the nearby training teams were asked to respond whist an ILS medic and Skymed was dispatched. The patient was assessed by the ILS medic and his status was unfortunately “blue” (suspected heart attack). Skymed 1 was used to extract the patient and transported him to an landing zone near Metro 4 (in the Helderberg Nature Reserve). The various necessary services were dispatched to receive the patient upon Skymed’s arrival. A few members of the WSAR training exercise, which had assisted in the rescue, were tasked with accompanying the remainder of the hiking group off the mountain and down to Metro 4.
The training exercise was concluded shortly after the rescue, and it was considered a successful event. Many salient points were raised and much was learned from the exercise. The exercise was saddened by the unfortunate outcome of the rescue; especially as it happened in such close proximity to the training event, and that there was little our teams could do to change the outcome.
On Monday afternoon 2016-07-18, Matt ZS1MJJ observed a riderless motorcycle flying through the air in the vicinity of the N2 between Somerset West and Gordon’s Bay. He stopped to investigate and found the rider lying 10 meters away from the motorcycle. The rider was in the water, unconscious, and would have drowned. Matt tuned to the local 145.600 repeater and called for assistance. Paul ZS1V was mobile elsewhere in the Helderberg and responded to his call. Matt informed Paul of the location and situation. Using the local Neighbourhood Watch commercial repeater, Paul called the Somerset West Neighbourhood Watch Control room, which has links to the local security companies, paramedic services and SAPS.
The control room operator soon returned with a message indicating that an ER24 ambulance and a SAPS vehicle were en route.
The entire incident lasted less than 10 minutes, nevertheless a number of learning points can be extracted:
1. If you are making an emergency call, make it clear that you are transmitting emergency traffic by using the word “emergency” or “priority”;
2. Listen on the repeater before transmitting and if you hear someone transmitting emergency traffic, do not attempt to make another call on the repeater until the emergency is over;
3. Know the DTMF codes for changing the repeater linking, or have them handy. Paul was able to isolate the 145.600 from the linked network in order to complete the emergency call without further interference from other stations attempting calls on the linked repeater system;
Well done to Matt for his quick thinking and willingness to stop and quite likely save a life, and to the Somerset West NHW for their assistance.