Paddlers taking part in the N3TC Drak Challenge canoe marathon on 23 and 24 January 2016 will take comfort from the news that the capacity of the Sani Search Volunteers that provide a vital rescue service has been bolstered by a donation of new rescue equipment from the race’s title sponsor.
As the huge field of paddlers moved through 65 kilometres of the remote Mzimkulu valley, their safety is overseen by the Canyon Kayak Club race safety committee in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union Safety team, providing marshalls and sweeps at rapids identified as potentially dangerous.
However in the event of a serious medical emergency, patients that need to be evacuated from the mountainous region will rely on the Sani Search Volunteers, working with Medical Standby team from Berg Protection Services.
The Sani Search Volunteers (SSV) are a small group of Underberg and Himeville locals who know the area well and go searching for lost or injured people. It has existed informally since the early 1990s but was consolidated into its present form in 2005 when the need for a bit more structure and training became apparent.
During the last eight years, they have helped 138 persons across 30 missions. Most of these have been hikers at night and in bad weather.
As part of their sponsorship for this year’s N3TC Drak Challenge, the N3 Toll Concession has provided vital equipment that will enable the SSV rescue team to access remotes sections of river to enable them to carry out any emergency evacuations, including a new inflatable Croc raft, specialised rescue life jackets, safety throw bags, anchoring equipment and helmets.
The group is officially a Hasty Team that can respond quickly to those who need to be located or assisted. This is especially important when a swift water rescue is required. If any situation demands more resources / skills, they work together with other rescue organisations, including the SAPS, SAAF, MCSA, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Services, Berg Protection Services, and the local Community Watch.