Category: <span>Disaster Management</span>

21 September 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Public Service Month through Service Delivery presentations

For Immediate Release
21 September 2022

In line with the country’s Public Service Month campaign, the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Corporate Services Department in collaboration with internal departments, are rolling out various activities to promote service delivery standards to the municipality’s external and internal audiences.

Recently, the municipality launched its e-recruitment systems and last week, on 16 September 2022, the GRDM Disaster Management and Fire Services representatives presented their operations to staff through a virtual platform hosted from the municipality’s Council Chambers.

Disaster Management Services

Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager for Disaster Management, during his presentation explained that Disaster Management is a continuous and integrated multiple-sectorial, multi-disciplinary process of planning and implementation of measures aimed at:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters;
  • mitigating the severity of consequences of disasters;
  • emergency preparedness;
  • rapid and effective response to disasters and they are also responsible for post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation of such disasters.

Disaster Management (DM) is a legislative mandate, Act 57 of 2002 as amended by Act 16 of 2015. In line with legislation, the function thus has to provide for an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management policy that focuses on:

  • preventing or reducing the risk of disasters
  • mitigating the severity of disasters
  • emergency preparedness; and
  • post disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

The Act furthermore provides for the establishment and functioning of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres.

DM: Emergency Call Centre

Explaining the Garden Route’s Risk profile, Otto listed the following risks which the Garden Route district is prone to, namely veldt fires, various types of drought, flood disasters, landslides; epidemics, spills, to name a few. To ensure that all these disasters are properly coordinated, proper lines of communication have to be in place.

The Garden Route Emergency Call Centre with a staff component of seven, is the first line of communication for incidents that need to be reported to the District Disaster Management Centre.  Otto also boasted the capacity and competence of the centre as a fully operational Disaster Management Centre receiving ± 20 000 EMS calls and approximately 5 000 fire and municipal calls per month.

DM: Assistance provided to local municipalities

Otto furthermore explained how the Disaster Management team also assisted local municipality’s Disaster Management Units with the development of their ward based risk assessments as well as local disaster management plans and in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, the team assisted local municipalities to declare disasters in their respective areas.

In 2017 they played a significant role in the coordination of all activities required due to the Knysna fires, as well as the fires that broke out in George in the following year.  Lastly, the team spear headed the District Covid-19 Command platform established after the national declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. The team coordinated the Covid-19 operations from the Municipal Joint Operation Centre that is located in the Garden Route municipal building in York Street George.

“Part of mitigating the effects of the disasters, Otto explained that Early Warning Systems have been put in place in order to communicate any severe weather early warnings to the public.  These include the municipality’s social media networks and e-mails to all Local Municipalities and response agencies/ role-players as well as ward councillors.

DM: Projects rolled out since 2017

Otto further explained that the Unit rolled out various projects since 2017, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the format of some of the projects changed to virtual engagements. These projects include the GRDM Volunteers Corps establishment, Rural Settlement Database, the Greenbook implementation, as well as CityRap implementation. He further explained that quite a number of accomplishments were made. “We have completed the mapping of priority wetlands and river ecosystems, we have established a District Food Pantry and reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for 2022.  Adding to this Otto said that the team is currently busy with the revision and the updating of the Garden Route District Coastal Management Programme 2021. “We started with the clearing of invasive Alien Vegetation and we have reviewed and updated the Garden Route Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2022, to name a few. Much more are planned to be rolled out and implemented for the current Council term”, he said.

However, Otto admitted that there a still several challenges that still needs to be addressed, such as climate change, strategic water management planning, structured and integrated invasive plant and predator animal eradication, delivery equitable service to all populations groups, address poverty through job creation, etc.

In closing off his presentation Otto said that GRDM Disaster Management plans to: “Build the capacity at local authority level to pro-actively plan and implement mitigation as well as adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction actions. This will limit the exposure to and the possible impact of future disastrous events”. Further to this he highlighted that the Centre envisages to build on the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) momentum, created with the Flanders funded project to attract further DRR funding from other possible sources i.e. Nedbank, SANTAM, etc.

GRDM Fire Services

Before introducing Deon Stoffels to all present, Trix Holtzhausen, GRDM Executive Manager for Corporate Services, congratulated him as the newly and permanently appointed Chief Fire Officer of the GRDM.

When starting his presentation, Stoffels clarified the role of the GRDM Fire Services and said that the District Municipality is responsible for veld, mountain chemical fires, which include hazardous materials spills and leakages. He further explained that there are certain components of the Disaster Management Strategy that is integrated and therefore in many instances implementable by the Fire Services Unit.

Stoffels said: “The GRDM Fire Services is a designated Fire Brigade Service that is established in terms of the Fire Brigade Services Act (99 and 1987 as amended).  The Service primarily focus on preventing the outbreak or spread of fires; fighting and extinguishing fires; the protection of life or property against a fire or other threatening danger; rescuing of life or property from a fire or other danger and any other function connected with these,” he said.

Their vision and mission, ultimately is to provide an efficient, cost effective, unprejudiced and equitable Fire Services to all citizens and visitors within the Garden Route District” he highlighted.

Together with this, Stoffels also emphasised the importance of creating awareness and educating the communities about the dangers of fire. He said: “GRDM Fire Service creates awareness of the dangers associated with fire in all communities and we furthermore educate Garden Routers, visitors and personnel alike to reduce the threats of fire”.

“We pride ourselves for informing, educating and creating awareness to rural, remote and particularly young children, as they naturally take the message home.’’ Adding to these, Stoffels said: “Developing and training personnel, ensuring that our assets and resources are managed and maintained, and our response time to attend to incidents are kept at the shortest possible time”.  The team furthermore record and document all emergencies and incidents that they attend to in an attempt to do further research and learn from it.

GRDM Fire Services has a staff component of forty-one (41) staff members/officers which are stationed at the main Fire base in George, as well as the Hessequa station based in Riversdale and the Kannaland station based in Ladismith.

Apart from fighting the usual fires, another new phenomenon was added to the team’s list of firefighting in 2020, when they had to fight a peat/underground fire for the first time in the Bergfontein, Albertinia area, for six weeks. He explained: “This is a phenomenon that is happening all over the world, but not often in South-Africa. When wetlands are compromised, it develops into a peatland,” he said. And, although it was a new experience for their team, Stoffels said that they all learnt immensely about the aspects relating to this type of fire as well as to how crucial a wetland and / or peatland are within the ecosystem. “In the past we would deem a fire to be halted at this particular point, but we now know that at all cost to prevent fires from burning here,” he said.

By continuing to deliver this service to the best of their ability, it cannot not be done in isolation. He said: “We are grateful to have good working relations with all our local municipalities, the South Cape Fire Protection Association, the Department of Forestry’s Fisheries & the Environment, the South African National Parks, Cape Nature, MTO Forestry, PG Bison Forestry, the Provincial Department: Directorate Fire Services and Working of Fire and we look forward to future collaborative fire services efforts to protect the people, properties and assets of the Garden Route district”.

The event was coordinated by the Corporate Services Executive Manager, Trix Holtzhausen in collaboration with the Community Services Department, under leadership of the Executive Manager, Clive Africa, who also attended the event. The next Public Service Month activity is planned to take place on Friday, 23 September 2022.

Did you know?

  • September marks Public Service Month in South Africa. Public Service Month (PSM) is an integrated strategic national event in the calendar of the Department of Public Service and Administration. The Public Service Month serves as a reminder of what it means to serve communities and to also look at the impact the government has, especially around issues of service delivery.
  • That GRDM Disaster Management Services continuously conduct First Aid training to members of the public as part of their annual awareness programme and is aimed at capacitating employed and unemployed Garden Routers to be able to save lives in any kind of emergency. The municipality has been providing First Aid Level 3 training since 2008 and to this point has trained more than 1700 community members. Each session takes place over a period of a week once per month and is facilitated by the GRDM Disaster Management officials at the municipality’s Head Office in George.
  • That the GRDM Fire Services, on a regular basis educate the communities about fire safety. These continuous initiatives form part of the GRDM Fire Services’ Fire Prevention and Fire Safety functions. Whilst the focus is placed on rural communities, businesses and schools within the residential areas are also assisted upon request.

5 August 2022 Media Release: GRDM Executive Mayor welcomes newly appointed District Commissioner of SAPS to the Garden Route district

Media Release: GRDM Executive Mayor welcomes newly appointed District Commissioner of SAPS to the Garden Route district

For immediate release
5 August 2022

On Wednesday, 03 August 2022, the Garden Route District Commissioner, Major-General Norman Modishana and his management had a meet-and-greet session with the Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Ald. Memory Booysen, his Mayoral Committee, Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, as well the Senior Management of GRDM. The Provincial Commander of the Hawks, Major-General Mathipa Makgato and his delegation including Brigadier Mushavhaduvha Ramovha accompanied the District Commissioner and both unpacked their mandate and plans to fight/prevent and investigate crime.

From left are: Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management, Ald Gert van Niekerk, GRDM Executive Deputy Mayor, Major-General Mathipa Makgato, Provincial Commander of the Hawks, GRDM Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen and SAPS Garden Route District Commissioner, Major-General Norman Modishana, during the walk-through at the GRDM Disaster Management Centre. – Photo: SAPS

While addressing the delegation, Municipal Manager of GRDM, Monde Stratu extended a warm welcome to Major-General Modishana to the area and said that the GRDM will support SAPS to prevent and combat crime in the area. He said: “Whenever it is necessary, we will also avail the resources of GRDM to SAPS, including the Disaster Management Centre which is one of the best Disaster Management Centres in the Western Cape Province to assists SAPS in fighting crimes”. He also mentioned a few concerns daily experienced in communities. One being the issue of the operating of liquor outlets in the area and he specifically mentioned about the by-laws in relation to the operation and access times of liquor outlets, including access to liquor by the youth. Adding to these Stratu emphasised that these are some of the major issues that is continuously raised by communities.

In return, Major-General Modishana, who was appointed on 1 June 2022, gave a brief resume of his career and expressed his desire to maintain and improve partnership policing with the GRDM. “Policing is multi-disciplinary approach which everyone has to bring their part to ensure that everything is taking place in the interest of the organisation,” he said. He further admitted that the district has challenges and said: “I hope that as we will be dealing with those challenges, that we will manage them. Adding to this he said: “We must not lose sight and continue to go forward, because when the community looks at us as government structures, we want them to have confidence in us, so that they feel free and safe at the same time”. The issue of the country-wide pandemic, gender-based violence (GBV), was also discussed and the various forms of crimes that relate to it, such as rapes, assaults, murders to name a few. “As a district, we are taking GBV seriously and it will be dealt with to a level where it can be managed and minimised. I look forward to working with all our stakeholders of SAPS,” he highlighted.

Major-General Makgato explained the roles and responsibilities aligned with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, as enshrined in legislation. He mentioned that their role is two-fold; not only to investigate but also to educate. He urged the Municipal Manager and his senior management team to assist and cooperate with the DPCI, whether with investigation or awareness campaigns that will be rolled out in the near future. “There are certain expectations from the community and from government at large and our mandate is to investigate the national priority offences which deal with serious investigations, including corruption, commercial and organised crime investigations.” He further said that “we have all those competencies that have been established, although we are still doing our best to capacitate them.

Makgato also said that one of the responsibilities of DPCI, is not only to arrest, but also to educate. “By educating through awareness campaigns, we should be able to sensitise our people, because some will do it knowingly and some will say ‘we did not know’”. With regards to the support needed from stakeholders such as GRDM to roll out programmes, Makgato said: “We want the buy-in from the District Municipality, so when we begin with awareness campaigns, we would need your assistance”.  To Mayor Booysen he said: “I am grateful for the opportunity that you have provided to us and that you commit yourself to serve the people of the District without any favour, I am appealing to my office that is here, reach out and cooperate”.

Mayor Booysen thanked Major-General Modishana and Major-General Makgato and the SAPS delegation for their visit to the GRDM offices. He also extended a warm welcome to the District Commissioner after being appointed to serve the Garden Route. Mayor Booysen emphasised that communities, many times, do not understand the difference between SAPS and the Judiciary and the link between the two departments, but we appreciate the idea of the awareness campaigns planned for the area and as GRDM we would greatly assist. We are looking forward to strengthen the relationships with our stakeholders going forward,” he concluded.

Executive Deputy Mayor, Ald Gert van Niekerk thanked the delegation for their visit to the GRDM offices. He said: “Fighting crime was a function of SAPS for ages, but as a district municipality, we will assist. We need each other to serve our community, but preventing and the combatting of crime is none other than good service delivery; so let us maintain this course, let us keep our door open and let us do it”.

Representatives from Garden Route District Municipality, the Hawks and SAPS during the meet-and-greet session.

After the formal discussions, Gerhard Otto, Manager for Disaster Management at GRDM led a walk-through of the municipality’s Disaster Management Centre which was built approximately 15 years ago. Various emergency services link up with SAPS from the Disaster Management Centre, especially when there are disasters in the region and the Joint Operations Centre is activated.

ENDS

30 June 2022 Media Release: Bojanala Platinum DM pays a visit to Garden Route DM to benchmark emergency-related services

Media Release: Bojanala Platinum DM pays a visit to Garden Route DM to benchmark emergency-related services

For Immediate Release
30 June 2022

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Fire and Rescue Services had a successful year of firefighting thanks to the public reporting incidents and for assistance provided by various role players. During the past financial year starting 1 July 2021 and ending 30 June 2022, no lives were lost in wildfires. A countless number of homes and shacks were protected while only ±40 structures, including shacks, were destroyed by wildfires. Shacks are included in the statistics of the GRDM because the municipality renders a local municipal firefighting function for Kannaland.

It is because of the world-class firefighting response by the GRDM and the state-of-the-art Disaster Management Centre of the District, that Bojanala Platinum District Municipality (BPDM) visited the region to learn from the best. The BPDM was here on a mission to benchmark its fire services and meet global standards while safeguarding its communities.

HIGHLIGHTS OF BPDM VISIT

During her opening remarks upon arrival at the GRDM Head Office, Cllr Matlakala Nondzaba, Executive Mayor of BPDM said: “We have chosen the GRDM because the district has one of the best firefighting units in the country”.

“It can never be too late to learn from your peers who are excelling. Our visit here also comes at the right time as we enter a new financial year. We might have to relook our priorities going forward,” said Mayor Nondzaba. Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen responded with how the region has been hit by several disasters over the past ten (10) years. “This has made us very resilient and experts in coordinating regional responses to emergencies, however, we can improve like any other municipality,” said Booysen.

Booysen also took a moment to thank BPDM and the province it represents for them and others for extending lending a helping hand during the Knysna fires.

BPDM visited the GRDM Disaster Management Centre and the main firebase of GRDM which is situated at 17 Pioneer Road in Pacaltsdorp Industria, George. During their visit to the firebase, they did a walk-through of the property, learnt more about all the firefighting vehicles of the district and were shown how the GRDM’s thermal drone operates. At the Disaster Management Centre, they also had the opportunity to better understand the GRDM’s response to emergencies.

The session was closed by both municipalities agreeing to formulate a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, made it clear that the MOU should have clear deliverables to ensure a meaningful outcome for all future engagements between both institutions. Some of the issues touched on during MOU discussions included policy matters, budget planning for disaster management and fire services, specifications for equipment, and strategic approaches to improving workforce morale.

GRDM Acting Fire Chief, Johan Brand, shared some technical features of the GRDM fire trucks with three Chief Fire Officers, Fanie Mogale, Dan Khunou and Doctor Mosito.

OVERVIEW OF FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS OVER THE PAST YEAR

In assessing the 2021/2022 financial year, the GRDM fought over 90 wildfires, be it by foot or with the support of aerial firefighting. This means that on average, a wildfire occurs every 4th day of a 365-day period. With the Garden Route district area being 2 333 100 hectares in size, including residential areas, only 12 669 hectares were burned. This calculates to 0,54% of the region impacted by wildfires over the past 12 months.

Battling blazes always requires a joint response. It is therefore only prudent for the GRDM Fire and Rescue Services to once again officially thank all the role players who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe. Role players include Cape Nature, South African National Parks (SANParks), Mountain To Ocean (MTO), Local Municipalities (Hessequa, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Bitou, Greater Oudtshoorn and Kannaland), Working On Fire (WoF), PG Bison, South Cape Fire Protection Agency (SCFPA), Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), Albertinia and Still Bay Farm Watch, First Care Volunteer Wildfire Services, Knysna Fire Rangers and Bitou Farm Management Unit, local farmers (Mossel Bay, Riversdale, Gysmanshoek) and volunteers.

On top of the rapid response of firefighters, the GRDM held 36 information sessions with schools and communities, three (3) per month throughout the seven (7) municipal areas. These sessions were facilitated by 40 firefighters of the GRDM who report to firefighting bases in George, Riversdale and Ladismith.

The information sessions generally include topics such as:

  • What to do when discovering a wildfire;
  • Using evacuation routes and sheltered areas;
  • What not to do in a fire situation;
  • Fire behaviour;
  • How to put out a fire without water;
  • Preventing fires from spreading;
  • Assisting vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly and children and pregnant women;
  • Locating and using fire extinguishers;
  • How to safely evacuate;
  • Safe practices around and inside homes.

Another contributing factor to the success of firefighting efforts is resources. The GRDM Fire and Rescue Services Unit has the following transport assets: five (5) tankers, 6 firefighting bakkies, a command vehicle, hazardous material fire truck and a quadbike.

If the public comes across any wildfire, please make contact with the GRDM Emergency Call Centre on 044 805 5071. The call centre is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and each day of the year.

Feature image: GRDM and BPDM representatives at the main firebase of the District.

ENDS

22 June 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District sources smoke detectors for Qolweni and Bossiesgif

Media Release: Garden Route District sources smoke detectors for Qolweni and Bossiesgif

For Immediate Release
22 June 2022

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in conjunction with Bitou Municipality, and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) employees, installed 1 368 smoke detectors in Qolweni and Bossiesgif informal settlements in March 2022.  The intervention came after shack fires destroyed several informal structures and claimed the lives of three (3) Garden Routers in 2021. During incidents, 13 informal structures were destroyed, leaving 50 people homeless. Many residents are temporarily displaced during structural fires or do not have the means to rebuild their lives.

Lee-Ann Joubert (GRDM Disaster Management Officer), Bongani Kraya (EPWP) en Morné Zietsman (GRDM Disaster Management intern) all worked together to ensure the smoke detector installations happened according to plan.

Cllr Nompumelelo Ndayi, GRDM Portfolio Chairperson for Community Services, said: “I am grateful for the intervention that was initiated by the GRDM’s Disaster Management Centre and for the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre who donated the smoke detectors, as well as for Bitou Municipality’s assistance during the installation of the devices. I have already been informed of these early warning devices have saved several lives in Qolweni and Bossiesgif”.

The smoke detector installation project created temporary jobs for eight (8) EPWP individuals from Bitou who received comprehensive training on installing and testing the devices after concluding each task. The installation followed a phased approach to cover high-risk dwellings.

According to Lee-Ann Joubert, GRDM Disaster Management Officer: “Each installation had to be done according to a strict procedure, requiring the address, person’s name and surname and contact details to be provided. EPWP officials also recorded the ID numbers and contact details of those who stayed at dwellings without addresses.”

Community members were informed of the installations by means of loud hailing over weekends. Similar interventions will be rolled out to the rest of the region in all high-risk areas identified through a GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment. According to District’s risk assessment, Smutsville in Sedgefield, Kwanonqaba in Mossel Bay and Thembalethu in George, are in dire need of similar interventions. This will cost the GRDM Council R1 695 000 and include 4 500 smoke detection devices (including installation costs). The estimated cost per smoke detector is between R350 and R400 each and all installed devices in Qolweni and Bossiesgif were funded by the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre.

Through this risk reduction initiative, the most vulnerable communities are notified by a loud and timely alarm, allowing everyone to escape safely. During the installation, each household will continue to receive fire-wise education material too.

Feature image: EPWP workers who installed the smoke detector devices at dwellings in Bossiesgif and Qolweni.

ENDS

17 June 2022 Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

For Immediate Release
17 June 2022

The Greater Oudtshoorn region continues to be plagued by ongoing droughts, and alternatives have had to be found to ensure water security for the region. Since 2018, the water supply from the Raubenheimer dam was under severe pressure as the amount of water available from the dam, exceeded the amount that could be relied upon with a 98% degree of assurance. The future and ongoing supply of water in the Oudtshoorn area is severely constrained and drastic measures had to be planned to address the situation urgently.

Furthermore, the Vermaaks Rriver boreholes near Dysseldorp are used to maximum capacity and the Huis River, which supplies De Rust with water, is unreliable during the summer months, which holds negative implications for the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply System (KKRWSS).

The Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline is a project that was started in 2001 to investigate and develop alternative and additional water supplies for the Oudtshoorn area. Nine deep, and three monitoring boreholes were drilled in the Blossom’s wellfield, which were monitored and tested for 13 years. The test was completed in 2014, and it was concluded that the boreholes yield enough groundwater to supplement the water supply from the Raubenheimer Dam. It was determined that 60l/s (5Ml/day) can be supplied from 5 existing boreholes within the C1 Blossoms wellfield. The test also found that the impact on the environment would be minimal.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) approved a license for the total yield of 8 million m3/a for the ultimate full development of the Blossoms wellfield and gave the nod for the construction to commence. Originally, the project was intended as a medium to long-term bulk water augmentation intervention but given the current water crisis in the Oudtshoorn area, it will be implemented soon.

Funding for the current phases of the project, which started in February 2022, comes from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant, which allocated a total of R47 million. To date, more than R150 million was spent, which was co-funded by DWS and Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The current phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

ends

 

Severe Weather Alert

5 May 2022 Impact Based Warning: Veld Fire Conditions

Please find included the Impact Based Warning for the Western Cape and Namaqua Region of Northern Cape.

Legal notice:
“This warning from SA Weather Service must be communicated as received and may not be altered under any circumstance. It must be forwarded or communicated in its entirety and no portion hereof may be replicated or copied and distributed.”

Hazard Affected Municipalities Valid From (SAST) Valid To (SAST)
Veld Fire Conditions Beaufort West, Hantam, Kannaland, Laingsburg 05/05/2022 at 08h00 06/05/2022 at 20h00
 Discussion: The warm temperatures, dry conditions and strong winds could result in the development of runaway and veld/bush fires.
Impact: Conditions are such that the FDI index is above 75. Under these conditions, fires may develop and spread rapidly resulting in damage to property and possible loss of human and/or animal life.
Instruction: Fireteams, labour and equipment are to be placed on stand-by. At the first sign of smoke, every possible measure should be taken in order to bring the fire under control in the shortest possible time.

SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICE
Cape Town Weather Office
2nd Floor: Oval Office Park
Cape Town Int airport
Freight Road
Matroosfontein
Cape Town

15 March 2022 GRDM Media Release: Disaster Management officials presented their 1st First Aid Level 3 Training for the year

GRDM Disaster Management officials held their first First Aid Level 3 Training for the year

For immediate release
15 March 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM’s) Disaster Management Centre, recently hosted its first First Aid Level 3 training session for the 2022 calendar year. The course was held from 21 to 25 February 2022 and involved 6 unemployed and 3 employed people from the George Local Municipal area.

The following topics were covered during the session:

  • Basic principles of First Aid;
  • Safety and lawful aspects;
  • Patient assessment;
  • Basic life support;
  • Airway management;
  • Treatment of shock;
  • Dressing and bandages;
  • Injury emergencies;
  • Medical emergencies;
  • Environmental emergencies; and
  • Emergency childbirth.

After completing the theoretical and practical parts of the course, all participants were rated as competent after they completed their practical exams. GRDM Disaster Management volunteers formed part of this successful session and are now able to apply the principles covered in the session in their daily lives. One participant is employed at the South African Police Services (SAPS) and two (2) present horse-riding training in the Pacaltsdorp area. All topics covered will enable these participants to effectively apply the course material and practical demonstrations in their respective careers.

Participants of the First Aid Level 3 Training Session presented by Garden Route District Municipality, with Facilitator and Disaster Management official, Gail Bekeer (right).

The training programme is part of Disaster Management’s annual awareness programme and is aimed at capacitating employed and unemployed Garden Routers to be able to save lives in any kind of emergency. The municipality has been providing First Aid Level 3 training since 2008 and to this point has trained more than 1700 community members. Each session takes place over a period of a week once per month and is facilitated by the GRDM Disaster Management officials at the municipality’s Head Office in George.

For more information regarding the programme, contact the GRDM Disaster Management official, Wouter Jacobs, at 044 803 1300.

First Aid Tips

  • Never place any ointments on a superficial burn wound. It will create secondary complications. The best treatment is to rinse the wound with cold water or cover the wound with a Burnshield.
  • An unconscious patient may never lay flat on his/her back. Always place the patient in the recovery position, in other words on his or her side, this position will protect the patient’s airway.
  • The stinger of a bee should never be pulled out but rather scraped off with something with a sharp edge like a bank card, this will prevent the poison from being squeezed from the venom sack of the bee into the patient’s skin.

ENDS

04 March 2022 Media Release: GRDM Firefighters educate Garden Routers about wildfires in Summer seasons

Media Release: GRDM Firefighters educate Garden Routers about wildfires in Summer seasons

For immediate release
04 March 2022

 The Garden Route is historically a fire-prone district with many areas which are a high risk to fire.  

During the hot and dry Summer season, wildfires are more prevalent and are difficult to control. Wildfires happen mostly outside urban areas that also have the potential to spread out of control. These types of fires also have the potential to kill people and destroy property. 

Most wildfires are started by people, compared to a lesser amount which is started by natural occurrences such as lightning. 

GRDM Disaster Management official with a member of the Melkhoutfontein community member during a Fire Awareness Campaign.

When it comes to fire safety awareness, one of the most important methods is identifying potential fire threats and ensuring that a well-thought-out fire safety plan is in place as soon as a fire occurs. 

The Fire & Rescue Service and Disaster Management teams from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) continuously place a lot of efforts on preventative measures in the form of awareness and education. They especially do this in and around rural and remote areas and within high-risk areas on the urban perimeters.  Areas in George such as Hoekwil/Touwsranten and Wilderness Heights recently received educational visits from the GRDM firefighters.

Members from the Garden Route District Disaster Management Centre furthermore collaborated with Hessequa Fire and Rescue Unit to conduct a Fire Awareness Campaign at the Melkhoutfontein “Kerksegronde” community. The aim was to teach the community to be fire safe and prevent undesirable structural and veld fires, also to raise awareness of the dangers of fires. The community was encouraged to take responsibility for reducing fire risks and its potential impacts. Emergency contact details were also distributed. 

To date the fire season has been relatively busy, as well as around the Western Cape.

To illustrate further (in the pictures) are interventions undertaken by the GRDM firefighters during the past ‘non-fire season’ in different areas within the Garden Route district where the team created awareness about fire safety.

ENDS

02 February 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Once Again Celebrating World Wetlands Day on 02 February

Garden Route District Municipality Once Again Celebrating World Wetlands Day on 02 February

For immediate release
2 February 2022

Today, 2 of February 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is once again celebrating the World Wetlands Day. World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually and aims to raise awareness globally about the vital role of wetlands for humans and the entire world’s eco-system.

A significant number of wetlands can be found throughout the Garden Route, including one protected under the Ramsar Convention. The internationally known Wilderness Lakes Ramsar Site falls within the Garden Route National Park, covering an area of 1 300 hectares and includes estuarine lakes of Rondevlei, Langvlei and Eilandvlei, the Serpentine channel, and a dune system. A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention; an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The treaty provides for national action and international cooperation to conserve wetlands and to use their resources in a sustainable manner.

The wetlands within the Garden Route are considered to be high-value ecological infrastructure. They provide vital habitat for flora and fauna, which forms part of a larger critical ecosystem to the environment. These include flood attenuation, water filtration, erosion control and water storage (regulatory services), as well as food provision, supply of raw materials and clean drinking water (provisioning services). The wetlands within the municipal boundaries also play a pivotal role in disaster risk management, as well as reducing the impacts of climate change.

Dr Nina Viljoen, Head of Environmental Management at GRDM said: “Within the Garden Route however, a significant number of the wetlands are under threat, or have already been lost. This is largely due to historical degradation, deliberate draining of wetlands to make way for development and agriculture, inappropriate development within the close proximity to the wetlands, poorly regulated agricultural practices, contamination through chemical, sewage, effluent and stormwater seeps, sedimentation, water abstraction and the spread of invasive alien plants”.In light of this, Dr Viljoen added that there is an urgent need to increase awareness of wetland importance and to incorporate natural wetland resource considerations into municipal governance mechanisms and planning. She emphasised: “Careful management, and investing in the maintenance of healthy wetlands, as well as the rehabilitation and restoration of damaged or degraded wetlands, are needed. This will ensure the continued provision of these vital ecosystem services to the municipality”.

GRDM Wetlands Strategy (2017-2022)

The GRDM developed a Wetlands Strategy (2017-2022) in collaboration with, and support from, the Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands South Africa (LAB: Wetlands SA) programme, and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Africa Secretariat (ICLEI AS). Through the development of this Strategy, gaps in the support of wetland management within the district were identified, and improved wetland management strategies were therefore incorporated within the Strategy.

The GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment (2020-2021)

The GRDM recognises that wetlands are of immense value, especially when it comes to disaster risk reduction.  According to a GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment (2020-2021), wetlands have the ability to contribute towards disaster risk reduction by means of its flood attenuation, water filtration and related water security functions. These functions are also extremely important in climate change adaptation, and needs to be conserved in order to assist in the mitigation of future climate change risks. The GRDM therefore seeks to enhance the conservation and management of the districts’ natural wetland resources. This is done by integrating biodiversity issues into its local government support, planning and decision-making processes.

As part of its disaster risk assessment, the GRDM identified a high flood risk in the coastal and lagoon areas of the district, particularly during the winter months. This impact is worsened by increasingly degraded wetlands.

According to the GRDM Climate Change Report (2018), most wetlands are classified as either ‘moderately modified’ (between 25% and 75% of the wetland land cover is natural) or ‘heavily to critically modified’ (less than 25% of the wetland land cover is natural).  Wetlands within the district therefore face a significant number of threats, all of which have the ability to either destroy the wetland entirely, or severely compromise function and provision of ecosystem services.

In order to conserve wetlands in the Garden Route, and to reduce the number of threats they are facing, Dr Viljoen said: “The GRDM, its local municipalities within its area of jurisdiction, as well as all the stakeholders, need to adapt to a ‘new normal’. The complex interactions between society and wetland ecosystems need to be approached in an integrated way, she added”.

It is essential to increase the monitoring and regulation of new environmental authorisation applications that will impact wetlands. Through this, sustainability projects will be identified that will benefit the neighboring communities to identify community upliftment opportunities and products/services for sustainable wetland use. This will allow the prioritisation of wetlands and the implementation of innovative and internationally-used approaches to help reach sustainability goals and objectives. It is essential that the municipalities within the Garden Route district compile the best available spatial information on wetlands for inclusion in their Spatial Development Frameworks (SDF’s), as well as to include wetland management within their Integrated Development Plans (IDP’s).

The following related GRDM documents can be accessed on its website:

ENDS

01 February 2022 Media Release – GRDM and stakeholders to install smoke detectors in Qolweni, Bitou

Media Release – GRDM and stakeholders to install smoke detectors in Qolweni, Bitou

For immediate release
01 February 2022

Early detection of home fires is critical in preventing deaths and injuries. These fires can smoulder for some time before bursting into flames, releasing deadly toxic gases. This is why the majority of fire-related deaths are associated with suffocation. Smoke disorientates people or incapacitates them so quickly that they cannot escape, in particular while sleeping. Studies have shown that the smell of smoke does not wake people up. However, if a potential fire is detected during the smouldering stage, it can reduce the risk of suffocating and provide enough time for people to escape a property.

Photo: Bitou Municipality

For these reasons, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in collaboration with Bitou Local Municipality and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre have initiated an innovative smoke alarm installation programme for high fire risk areas. The first roll-out will be for communities of Qolweni, a township in Plettenberg Bay.

Smoke detectors or smoke alarms, as we know them, is a device that senses smoke and issue an audible or visual alarm from the detector itself  to indicate a fire.

The project aims to:

– Reduce fire deaths, injuries and property losses;

– Educate residents about the importance of installing and maintaining smoke alarms;

– Assist residents to develop and practice an effective home fire escape plans;

– Assist municipalities in meeting its legislative requirements under the Municipal Structures Act, Disaster Management and Fire Brigade Services Act;

– And it would create improved community relations between the residents and municipal fire departments.

Gerhard Otto, Manager for Disaster Management at GRDM, said: “To commence with the project, GRDM together with its stakeholders will appoint a team to install the detectors. Also, training and awareness will be provided during the installation of the smoke alarms within the community”.

The launch of the project is envisaged to take place in February this year.

ENDS

Feature Image: Western Cape Government