The National Sea Rescue Institute pink rescue buoys won the 2018 International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) award for Innovation and Technology in Norway on Thursday.
The buoy is designed to be used by bystanders to provide an emergency flotation device to someone in danger of drowning, before the emergency services or lifeguard arrives. Graphics show the bystander how to throw the buoy to the victim in the water.
The majority of fatal and non-fatal drownings on South African beaches are as a result of rip currents, and they are most likely to happen when the lifeguard is not on duty.
NSRI head of Drowning Prevention, Andrew Ingram said flotation on beaches were a common site where life rings were placed at the waters edge or at beaches, swimming pools and canals. But this practice died out.
Concerned about the rate of drowning, NSRI - a search and rescue organisation, stepped forward to initiate a series of preventative campaigns. This new unit is headed by Andrew Ingram.
"Rescuers world-wide use torpedo buoy flotation, these buoys are affordable and effective. The idea was to then make these available as public rescue devices.
Ingram said 12 months later they have 300 installations around the country. Most importantly 17 lives have been saved.
"The next step is to make this pervasive across all beaches and beside all water bodies. Through partnerships and community buy-in this is possible,"Ingram said.
Ingram who was present at the awards ceremony has been invited to present the South African born campaign to the IMRF Europe's annual meeting.
Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF said, “The winners include some outstanding individuals, exceptional organisations and companies who really set the ‘gold standard’ for maritime search and rescue around the world. They really are remarkable and act as an inspiration to all those working and volunteering all around the world to prevent loss of life in the world’s waters. We would also like to thank all of the IMRF Award sponsors who make this global recognition and celebration of maritime SAR excellence possible and the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue.”