PHOTOS: Not all heroes wear capes – some volunteer

Committed community members risking their lives to save others

From Jarryd Westerdale of the Roodepoort Record

Chris Montgomery next to his neatly packed vehicle. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

After a long week of work and caring for children, most people look forward to Friday and Saturday nights as a time to relax or unwind. There are some though that suit up and prepare to aid their fellow community members. These are not would-be superheroes but simply passionate and concerned members of the public. They are the voluntary fire and rescue squad of Emergency Control South Africa (ECSA).

Keagan Townsend, Tiana Pailman and Josh Davidson enjoying a snack. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

ECSA is a non-profit organisation that operates a 24-hour fire, search and rescue service free to the communities of Johannesburg Fire District Six. Registered with the Department of Social Development, they operate solely on donations and the funds of its members. ECSA members are on standby throughout the week, but it is Friday and Saturday nights when the crew come alive. ECSA will scan the airwaves in search of people in distress ready to race to their aid.

ECSA’s emergency response vehicle on scene. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

ECSA has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the leadership of Ian Janse van Rensburg, Chris Montgomery and Harold Pailman. Ian has decades of community involvement, Chris has 10 years’ paramedic and rescue expertise and Harold has served almost two decades of fire rescue and paramedic duty. Their crew is trained to deal with fires, both structural and grass, and they also have the capability to handle search and rescue operations as well as motor vehicle accident response and clean up.

Lee Lerm, Martin Snyman and Harold Pailman waiting for a call. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

ECSA has a loving family bond to it. The crew consists of fathers, daughters, mothers, cousins and husbands. Every shift begins with a reminder that keeping each other safe and remembering the basics are paramount. The bond that guides the crew also provides the inspiration to help those in need. The spirit they have as a collective is evident in everything they do, whether it be the banter while sharing a few coffees between calls or the precision with which they secure a scene.

Ian Janse Van Rensburg standing with Engine One. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

ECSA will continue to grow and with the next generation of heroes already in training, they will form a formidable unit. As a passionate collective with determined bravery, the community can rest a little easier, knowing that ECSA is ready to help.

If you care to assist with donations of any kind, please search for them on Facebook at ECSA.JHBWEST or call 072 641 0111.