Youth month: Amy Forster is a volunteer at NSRI

Amy Forster, 20, rescue crew member at NSRI Station 3, Table Bay. Picture: Supplied

A desire to help people and a great love for the ocean has seen 20-year-old Amy Forster of Lakeside become a volunteer rescuer with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

“One of the things I love about the NSRI is how inclusive it is and how it caters to all ages,” said Forster who is a crew member at NSRI Station 3 in Table Bay. “There are aspects that everyone can get involved in, whether you love the water and getting that adrenaline rush, or if you prefer to feel a bit more grounded on a bigger boat.

As an organisation, Sea Rescue are not only looking for volunteers to go to sea, but also need volunteers who are willing and able to contribute in a range of different ways.

“There are even things to do that don’t involve going near the ocean such as driving the rescue vehicle or managing the radios at the base. There is something for everyone.”

Forster, who has plans on being a Grade 3 teacher, is a firm believer that the youth of South Africa should be active within their communities, “which is why I love being a volunteer and helping others”.

“As young South Africans, we are the future and have the opportunity to be the change,” she said. “I hope to inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and to help others and that is why I love being a volunteer for the NSRI.”

The NSRI, formed in 1967, is a non-profit organisation staffed by volunteers who are on standby day and night throughout the year to ensure water safety is maintained and people in distress are rescued on both coastal and inland waters.

She said her main focus is on becoming a rescue swimmer and a class three coxswain, which would allow her to be at the helm of a nine-metre or smaller size vessel.

In her three “happy” years with the NSRI, Forster has accumulated over 150 volunteer hours.

She was first introduced to the NSRI in 2016, aged 16. “At the time, I was looking for something that would combine my love for the ocean with my desire to help people.

“Firefighting was another option because I have several family members involved with that department, but my love for the ocean came up tops and that’s why Sea Rescue was the perfect fit.”

Her crew typically trains on the Saturday of their duty week to keep on top of fitness and to make sure the crew are competent when it comes to performing all the necessary tasks needed for rescues.

“This is my favourite part of Sea Rescue because we start our morning off with a crew breakfast at 8h00 and then we do boat and vehicle checks and typically launch around 10h00 for a solid training session.” 

Forster also needs to keep her knowledge up to date through the use of the NSRI’s online training platform, while she also regularly practices the tying of knots, and keeps up a high level of fitness.

The sense of family engendered by the NSRI is one of the attractions of the volunteer service. “Just knowing that no matter what, my crew has my back and I have theirs”.

Being out on the ocean and “getting to see all of the amazing wildlife that lives in our bay” is just the crowning glory.