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After watching weeks of thrilling footage of the several top emergency services teams on SABC3’s Centrum Guardian, viewers gained an appreciation of what these brave men and women do for a living. For them, saving lives is not about fame or money, it is about a sense of duty, a calling.
In fact, if it wasn’t for Centrum Guardian, which pays homage to these everyday superheroes, we would probably never know just how incredible they are at their jobs. From saving 139 people who were close to drowning in one incident to rescuing just one person in another, these saints give no preference to any one mission.
As one person at the finale rightfully said, when it comes to saving lives, it doesn’t matter what sex or race the victim is, the emergency services personnel go all out to save a life.
That said, Centrum Guardian encourages these life-savers from all over the country to enter the show by sharing their heroic escapades. The teams with the most inter- esting stories are then selected to have their stories re-enacted for the benefit of viewers.
Each week we see one team show us what transpired when they faced a calamity in which they had to save a life. At the end of the season, the viewer is asked to vote for the one team they felt had the most inter- esting story. A substantial amount of money, R61 000, will be given to the winning team.
Also, for the first time, an independent panel of judges, myself included, was asked to view all the episodes and score which team did the best job at saving a life.
The winner was Team Focus (pictured) who were called in to save lives at the scene of a bus accident. Team Focus were aided by firefighters from the Meyerton Fire Station and medical personnel from ER24, Gauteng Emergency Medical Services, Netcare 911 and Vaal Emergency Ambulance Services.
Unfortunately, 19 lives were lost, but it could have been more had these dedicated people not worked tirelessly to save those injured.
The bus had skidded off the road and hung on an icy plane, trapping most of its passengers inside. Seventy-two passengers were saved in a dramatic collective effort that lasted six hours in unforgiving weather.
As judges we received the re-enacted footage and descriptive notes that summarised how the incidents took place. In all eight instances, at least one life was saved, so there is no way one situation could have been deemed better than another.
This is why the job of judging on such show is hard. It is not as easy as pulling the “it’s a ‘no’ from me” Randall Abrahams Idols SA line, as these are people’s lives.
I had a score sheet that stipulated I should score the teams between one and eight, with eight the top mark. I gave all the teams something between six and eight and was advised that I had missed the point. Since there were eight finalists, I had to grade all the teams, with the least-liked team getting a one, meaning that despite their effort they had come last.
But if you look at the rescue attempt put in by my lowest-scored team you’ll still see that they did a sterling job. In fact, to rub salt into our judging wounds, most of the people who were saved by these teams were also at the finale, some with babies who would have died unborn had their mothers not been saved. Try telling these people that their team came last in the competition.
We commend what Centrum Guardian is doing as far as bringing to light the efforts of the unsung heroes in South Africa. However, having them compete in various acts of humanity is a bit too much to ask for.
A heroic act is a heroic act, whether big or small, so that’s a tough one.
On a positive note, however, the remaining finalists each received R2 500 from Centrum and each person received a six months’ supply of Centrum drinks.