It’s all about saving lives for Strandfontein lifeguards

Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club vice-chairman Elroy Sassman, club member Thaakirah Hendricks and Nasrud-Deen Jones rescued two young swimmers at Camps Bay last week.

Good instincts and quick reflexes helped Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) members, vice-chairman Elroy Sasman, his daughter Thaakirah Hendricks and a friend, Nasrud-Deen Jones, rescue two boys aged 9 and 15, who got into difficulties at Camps Bay tidal pool last Monday, January 15, at about 6.30pm.

Sasman, sitting on the far side of the pool with his family, said he noticed two boys playing unsupervised on the wall of the tidal pool during high tide.

Within seconds, he said, the 9-year-old slipped and fell into the pool, followed by his older cousin who jumped in to help. Things quickly went from bad to worse, he said, as the boys’ heads periodically disappeared under water with hands waving for help.

Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club members Thaakirah Hendricks and teammate Shaqeelah Arend at a packed Strandfontein Beach at the weekend. Picture: Fuad Esack

Alerting his daughter to the danger at hand, Sasman and Nasrud-Deen dived in and raced towards the boys with Thaakirah following hot on their heels.

While Sasman went after the younger of the two boys, Nasrud-Deen was having a hard time with the bigger one, who kept pushing him down in an attempt to keep his head above water.

“Trained for these situations Thaakirah used her training skills to help her friend bring the distressed swimmer to safety, said Sasman.

“She used a method called release and rescue. She applied these methods and saved the boy’s life and calmed him down,” he said.

“She managed to swim the boy to the wall and was assisted by Nasrud-Deen and a member of the public,” Sasman said.

Sasman also managed to swim the 9-year-old to shore after a struggle trying to keep the boy’s head above the water and battling high tide at the back of the pool.

From left are, Thaakirah Hendricks, Shaqeelah Arend and Ayoob Taliep. Picture: Fuad Esack

“It could have been so different, clearly having the correct training methods to handle a situation can be the difference between life or death,” he said.

He said Metro police were notified and in return informed the ambulance and EMS services. “The 9-year-olds vitals were checked and he was given some oxygen, both boys were okay and unharmed,” said Sasman, who has been with Strandfontein SLC for the past three seasons.

Established in 1965, club members have been on duty at Strandfontein Beach for nearly 60 years, keeping bathers safe and trying to prevent drownings in the sometimes treacherous waters, notorious for drownings or near-drownings.

A packed Strandfontein Beach on New Year’s Day, Monday January 1.

At the weekend, club members took part in a Life Saving Cape Town competition at Big Bay, with a squad of first timers taking second place in the men’s beach relay.

Stranfontein SLC members during a training session.

“On Tuesdays and Thursdays we focus on physical training, stamina, endurance and general fitness and getting new recruits ready for evaluation. On weekends during peak season, we would have a light training session before assessing a safe swim zone for bathers,” said Sasman.

Strandfontein SLC’s New Year’s Day squad all smiles after a good day at the office.

Over the years, club membership has dwindled, especially since the Covid pandemic years, he said, inviting new members to join.

As far as training is concerned, he said that firstly, it involves a lot of swimming, fitness, knowing how to handle a rescue craft, various life saving techniques, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use a oxygen tank, basic first aid up to level 3, and knowing all lifeguard hand signals.

Squad leader Luqmaan Naidoo thanked the crew for excellent work and ensuring a drown-free day on New Year’s Day.

Like her father, Thaakirah, 16, a Grade 11 pupil at Pelican Park High School, has been with the club for just over three years. “For me it’s all about the training, the life skills that’s being taught,” she said.

Strandfontein SLC’s Thaakirah Hendricks, Shaqeelah Arend and Ayoob Taliep take to the surf. Picture: Fuad Esack

“You learn discipline, you get to help others in emergency situations,” said Thaakirah.

“To be a lifeguard you need to be able to swim well, you need to be able to make choices very quickly and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations,” she said.

Strandfontein SLC vice chairman Elroy Sasman joins lifeguards Ayoob Taliep, Thaakirah Hendricks and Shaqeelah Arend in keeping an eye on the ocean. Picture: Fuad Esack

Teammate Shaqeelah Arend, a 17, a Grade 11 pupil at Rylands High, has been with the club for two years and loves every minute. “You get to work as a team and learn new things while working on the beach,” she said.

Ayoob Taliep, 28, from Beacon Valley, was introduced to lifesaving three years ago when he spotted a group training and asked if he could join.”Lifesaving is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by helping people in emergency situations and ensuring safety,” he said.

For more information or if you’d like to join, call Elroy Sasman on 061 324 2.968 or club captain Waahid Slamdien on 083 456 6097.

Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club members have been on duty at Strandfontein Beach since 1965. Picture: Fuad Esack