Working in a news room means the world is never far off, having to confront the inescapable global and local events on a daily basis. Yet even so, as reporters we almost have a second degree experience of what is going on out there, making us sheltered to some extent.
However, this is certainly not true for the men and women who are part of South Africa’s emergency and rescue personnel give who are truly at the frontline, dedicated to saving lives on land and sea. There bravery and dedication is honoured by the Centrum Guardians Campaign which invites NSRI workers to nominate team member for the Centrum Guardian of the Year Award.
Team members are all part of a world where everyday heroes do not have a regard for anything other than making a difference. About being the difference in life and death situations.
Having seen video footage of NSRI commitment to duty together with having spent that fateful night with one of the finalists, I can honestly say these men and women all deserve honour beyond gold medals.
As a sports journalist, I know that if there’s one thing regarded higher than the game itself it’s the prize. The status of coming first takes precedent. In the NSRI world this prize means the success of saving a life, even at the challenge of risking one’s own life in the process.
After weeks of voting, South Africans picked ….
This is true of this year’s Centreum Guardian of the Year Award, won by Robin Fortuin, a volunteer crewman at Strandfontein who saved the lives of six swimmers caught in the treacherous rip tide which was dragging them further and further out to sea.
Without thinking about his own safety, Robin entered the water, first bringing two swimmers safely to shore, before going back again for the remaining four swimmers. Despite the potential danger to himself, Robin jumped into the unpredictable sea, miraculously saving all four eternally gratefully swimmers.
If you don’t know how Robyn crossed that line ahead of everyone, here’s a reminder.
The Centrum Campaign is one of its kind, recognising the impact that the NSRI team members have on people in need in this country. Although, Centrum stands out at hosting this annual campaign, the reality is that South Arfrica as a whole is not doing enough to honour these men and women who risk their lives every day.
I do hope we can one day get to a place where it is a priority to honour this brave souls.
To the 2015 winner, Robin Fortuin, the finalists and so many in emergency services, this post is a small attempt at thanking you for your commitment and courage.
You are an example to us all; the world may not always know your daily struggles, but if nothing else, rest assured the few selected to be part of this campaign will never forget your efforts.
We will shed light to your horrors in as many ways as possible. Thank you for what you do. You make a difference to the lives of the people you touch both in the line of duty as an example to all South Africans of how it is possible to impact on other’s lives and make a difference.