SAAF assists in rescue of ill patient at sea


An Oryx from the South African Air Force (SAAF) assisted the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Netcare 911 to airlift a critically ill patient from a vessel off Richards Bay.

On Friday 26 November, the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) alerted NSRI Durban Airborne Sea Rescue (ASR) and Netcare 911 to prepare for the mission.

The NSRI said the rescue occurred on Saturday 27 November when NSRI Durban ASR crew, SA Air Force 15 Squadron pilots and flight crew and Netcare 911 rescue paramedics departed Air Force Base Durban aboard a 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter.

Lorenzo Taverna-Turisan, NSRI Durban deputy station commander, said the vessel was still deep sea off the East coast of Africa at the time and making best speed towards the South African coastline.

A Western Cape Government Health EMS duty doctor had evaluated the patient’s condition by satellite phone and medical advice for treatment for the patient was given to the ship’s medics by the EMS duty doctor and it was deemed necessary for the patient to be evacuated to an appropriate medical facility as soon as possible.

The Oryx subsequently rendezvoused with the vessel 45 nautical miles off-shore of Richards Bay and an NSRI rescue swimmer and two Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were hoisted from the helicopter onto the ship’s deck.

The patient, a 34 year old Indonesian man, was taken into the care of the rescue crew from the ship’s medics and airlifted to a Durban hospital in a critical condition.