Father thanks collaborative rescue services for saving his dying son

The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) welcomed the Armenville family and several rescue organisations that saved Bradley Armenville’s life to their Cape Town Base on Wednesday the 17th of January 2024.

On January 3, 2024, a peaceful beach trip planned for the family turned the Armenville family’s life in Bishop Lavis upside down. Mr. Basil Armenville, father of Bradley Armenville (23) arranged a family excursion to Glen Beach in Camps Bay, where he intended to spend time alone with his family. They discovered that one of their friends’ kids had snuck into the vehicle to join the family on their beach excursion.

Mr. Basil Armenville, recalls the day with emotion. “On January 2nd, I decided that we would go to the beach as a family the next day. I informed one of my sons that we would be going out alone as a family. Little did I know that one of the friends hid in the bakkie. When we arrived at the beach this specific boy that snuck in, went into the sea and found himself in difficulty in the water and was drowning. One of my friends noticed and tried to save him. Bradley, my son, then went into the water after him to help save the youngster. My daughter then noticed that Bradley was drowning and called for help, saying Bradley was busy drowning! We received assistance from bystanders who carried Bradley from the water. An off-duty doctor also came to help. It was determined that Bradley was not breathing and no heartbeat was detected. My wife and I stood there watching our lifeless son lying there while the doctor, lifeguards, and other bystanders started performing CPR to revive Bradley. I stood there begging God to help my son, saying, please help me; I love my children, we cannot go home without Bradley!

While they were performing CPR, I noticed how sand and water gushed out of my son’s mouth. The team continued without stopping, trying to bring Bradley back to life. I was thinking that we had already lost three family members; we couldn’t possibly lose Bradley too! As time passed, more and more rescue services joined. We stood back and respectfully let them do their job. We looked up and spotted the helicopter that came in to land to airlift Bradley. We are grateful to everyone who helped us on the beach and supported us throughout our journey, from regular residents to the rescue service and physicians and nurses at the hospital. We can only thank God that Bradley is back with us and can sit here today. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We will support you in every way we can, and I am grateful to everyone. May God generously reward your work.”

Councillor Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health of the City of Cape Town was also present to meet Bradley and his family. She addressed the family and team saying “As the City of Cape Town, we are proud of the miraculous efforts by our Lifeguard team at Glen Cairn Beach in collaboration with the partners. Independently we render different lifesaving services, but we have shown that together we can render exceptional attempts – we can save lives. I extended my sincere appreciation to every person involved in the rescue effort – from programme administrators to first responders. You have given hope to more than the patient, you shed much-needed light on the value of EMS services as a whole and the level of trust in our communities.”

Craig Wylie, Director of Emergency Medical Services of the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness said “My team completed 67,000 calls from the public this festive season. We cannot service the community without collaboration as this life-saving effort has shown. It starts with our first responders, our lifeguards, and our doctors, it’s about the collaboration and coordination of services that are here to help. We thank everyone who had a role to play in saving Bradley’s life. From my side thank you to you as a family for saying thank you to the team. We appreciate you for appreciating us.”

Farhaad Haffejee, CEO of the AMS said we thank all of the emergency medical services for saving the thousands of lives of our citizens in this Province. Thank you for your passion and for going beyond the call of duty to serve our community. In partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness Emergency Medical Services, we are proud to be of service to the community by providing rapid emergency aero-medical evacuation via our fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Pierre Smit, one of the AMS Emergency Care Practitioners (ECPs) who treated Bradley in the helicopter while he was being airlifted to Groote Schuur Hospital said; “miraculously Bradley made improvements day after day, to the point that he was discharged on Friday the 12th of January, with no neurological complications, and is on the road to make a full recovery. Thank you to everyone from the initial responders to the medical team at the hospital who played a role in Bradley’s recovery. This was an excellent team effort that resulted in Bradley’s positive outcome”.

The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness Emergency Medical Services, in collaboration with AMS, provides emergency rescue and air ambulance services using a fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The Department is collaborating with AMS to ensure that all individuals have equitable access to acute, specialist care at all levels. The Western Cape has two rescue helicopters, one in Cape Town and one in Oudtshoorn, as well as a Pilatus PC 12 fixed-wing aircraft stationed at the AMS base at Cape Town International Airport.

📸 Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town.

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