Drones play big part in search and rescue efforts

Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) Report – January 22, 2023

• Rescue 1: High-tech drone used to locate stuck hikers – rescuers climb to the aid of stranded hikers
• Rescue 2: A hiker carried from above Cecilia Forest
• Rescue 3: Hiker hoisted into helicopter from Krom River hiking trial
• Teams have responded to 33 call-outs in January 2023
• Outdoor-lovers are urged to memorise this crucial Emergency Number: 021 937 0300
• Please share the #IAmWildernessSafe campaign – to increase safety awareness

Dedicated teams of professionals and volunteers from Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) successfully mounted three separate mountain rescues on Sunday 22 January, 2023.


Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) teams were activated after a group of hikers called for help while attempting to ascend Els Ravine above Newlands Forest on Sunday morning. The group of seven hikers decided to call for help when it became clear that they were not able to safely climb any further. While four hikers were able to down-climb back to the start, the remaining three waited on a ledge for assistance.
A drone from the Western Cape Government – Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Drone Unit was used to locate the hikers. The drone immediately provided rescue team members with critical information about the patients’ exact position and the challenges the team were likely to encounter while accessing their location.
Once on scene, the team swiftly climbed to the three stranded climbers, secured them in harnesses and helmets and lowered them to the bottom of the cliff.
All seven hikers were then guided back down to the start of the hike.


On Sunday afternoon WSAR received a call after a woman injured her ankle while hiking above Cecelia Forest. The hiker stumbled and rolled her ankle while descending and was unable to hike any further.
She was treated on scene and packaged into a stretcher. With the help of the team’s new terrain taming wheel – fitted to the stretcher, the team made quick work of carrying her back up the trail to a vehicle.  She was driven down to Constantia Neck and transferred to an ambulance and before being driven to hospital.


A WSAR team on board the Western Cape Department of Health EMS / Air Mercy Service (AMS) rescue helicopter was dispatched to Du Toitskloof to assist an injured hiker late on Sunday afternoon.
The hiker, said to be in her twenties, injured her ankle while walking back from the Krom River Waterfall in the Limietberg Nature Reserve.
The rescue team was hoisted down to the patient. She was assessed and secured into a rescue harness and helmet, before being hoisted up into the helicopter. She was flown to a nearby landing zone and handed over to a waiting ambulance.

“Our peak summer season is still on a high, with huge numbers of locals and tourists exploring the outdoors,” said a WSAR spokesperson David Nel.

“That means we’ve been exceptionally busy, with our team members responding to numerous incidents.

“Our teams have already responded to 33 incidents in January, significantly more than in previous years.

“We ask that all wilderness enthusiasts help us by sharing the life-saving emergency contact number 021 937 0300, and share our posts on the #IAmWildernessSafe campaign.”

• Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) is a network of government agencies, and civilian volunteer organisations, who partner in search and rescue.

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