Intricate operation launched to rescue and bring man to safety

Emergency team uses construction crane to lower injured patient 50 metres

Thursday, August 11 2016

A construction crane was used by emergency medical personnel to rescue a critically injured man after he fell approximately three metres from scaffolding onto a concrete slab about 50 metres above the ground at a construction site at the Pavilion in Durban, says emergency services provider Netcare 911.

According to Gary Paul, Netcare 911’s regional operations manager, KwaZulu-Natal, and clinical head, Coastal, a tricky one-hour operation involving a high-angle rescue with the aid of a construction crane, was used to bring the man to safety.

“Netcare 911 paramedics responded to a call for assistance regarding an industrial accident in Westville on Saturday afternoon,” says Paul. “When our team arrived on scene the patient was lying the equivalent of some 16 storeys above ground level and there were no stairs or easy means of getting him safely down from the building.

“The paramedics also had to take into account the fact that the patient’s spine may have been damaged during his fall and therefore did not want to move him unnecessarily.

“They went about immediately stabilising the accident victim. However, realising that a high angle rescue system would be necessary to bring the patient down to the ground level they decided to call for the urgent assistance of Netcare 911’s rescue team, Rescue 2, to assist in the medical evacuation,” relates Paul.

He says that the Rescue 2 rescue officer was on-scene within minutes, and was able to safely secure the injured, but by now stabilised, patient into a specialised rescue stretcher called a Stokes basket. The ever-resourceful Netcare 911 team elicited the assistance of on-site construction personnel and a construction crane in order to bring the patient safely down to the waiting ambulance.

“They attached the Stokes basket to the crane cable and carefully lowered the patient and accompanying rescue officer to the ground, where an ambulance was waiting. The injured man was immediately transported to hospital in a stable condition under the care of an advanced life support paramedic, for further medical care.

For Paul, the case illustrates the importance of emergency and other parties involved, such as the construction crew, working together to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

“Everyone played a critical role, from the paramedics who first arrived on scene to the Rescue 2 team and the construction crew. They all deserve the highest praise for how they dealt with this difficult, potentially life-threatening situation.

“The incident also highlights the lifesaving benefits that the Netcare 911 Rescue 2 team, which is offered as a special community service to the people of KwaZulu-Natal, can bring to so many emergency situations.”

Paul explains that Rescue 2 and Rescue 1, which is a similar Netcare 911 service that operates in Gauteng province, are Netcare 911 social responsibility projects operated as a special service to the community to assist at major emergencies over large geographical areas.

“The personnel that operate the rescue vehicles are Netcare 911 paramedics who have been provided with special training in a number of rescue services. Their rescue vehicles offer excellent all-round terrain capabilities and carry a range of rescue gear that equips the crew for many different situations. In this case, they were able to provide special stretcher and safety equipment to lower the patient, and also effectively organise the rescue.”

“The rescue service concept itself has been in existence for more than a decade at Netcare 911 and has evolved from a safety and incident management unit with basic rescue capability into its current, more specialised operation,” adds Paul.

“Rescue 2 has assisted at numerous emergency scenes in KwaZulu-Natal and has helped save many lives, showing what can be achieved by a small team of dedicated, highly motivated and well-trained paramedics who are working for the good of the community,” he concludes.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney and Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email:, and