At approximately 01h20 on 3 September 2011, Wayne Broodryk received a call for a motor vehicle accident with the car on fire on the N3 South. Broodryk was close to the scene and responded immediately, arriving within a matter of minutes – approximately 01h23. There was an ambulance crew on scene, a Basic Life Support (BLS) medic and an Advanced Life Support (ALS) medic, but due to the severity of the fire they were unable to approach the vehicle, and had instead cleared an area around the vehicle and prevented bystanders from approaching the scene.
Broodryk pulled up a safe distance away from the burning vehicle, which had broadsided a concrete lamp-post. Broodryk, who has some basic fire fighter training, fortunately always carries a fire jacket in his response car. He reached for his bunker jacket and ran toward the vehicle, unsure if there was a still a patient inside. Only as he approached did he see that the driver of the vehicle was still inside, and appeared to be unconscious.
He had to get to the victim from the passenger side of the vehicle as the driver’s side was lodged against the concrete pole. He jumped in the front passenger side of the vehicle to get the man out.
Only once inside the vehicle did Broodryk realise the severity of the situation. The man’s legs were trapped under the dashboard of the vehicle, and were in fact burning in front of his eyes. With the flames a few inches from his body, he leant across and began to free the man’s legs from under the dash. In this situation, there was no time for anything but sheer strength. He grabbed the legs and ankles and pulled as hard as he could. The one leg came free, but the other remained trapped.
By this stage the flames were growing bigger by the minute – he could feel the heat scorching the left side of his face. He attempted to create leverage and a bit of space to free the trapped limb by pushing the seat back – he then grabbed the ankle and tried a different angle, and the patient’s leg came free at last.
During this time, a second ambulance crew, Basic Life Support Medic, Jacques Le Roux and Intermediate Life Support Medic, Roxanne Morrison, arrived on the scene.
As he managed to free the man’s leg, le Roux came running toward the vehicle. Broodryk instructed le Roux to assist from the rear. The flames were still limited to the front of the vehicle and the back was relatively safe. Le Roux proceeded to climb onto the boot of the vehicle. Broodryk lifted the man from the inside while le Roux pulled from the outside, finally getting the unconscious man to safety.
Broodryk said he was only in the vehicle for about 30 seconds to a minute. He knew the secondary risks could be that the fire would spread faster than the rate at which it was burning when he arrived and that there was a possibility that the tyres could explode.
As they carried the man away from the flames, their colleagues came to assist and initiated life-saving treatment.
The medical crew on scene who treated the patient stated that the man would not have survived if Broodryk did not pull him out. The patient suffered full thickness 3rd degree burns, both legs were fractured and he had severe inhalation burns with swollen vocal cords.
Fire fighter crews arrived shortly thereafter and moved to subdue to fire. To the medical crew’s knowledge, the man was still alive and recovering on day three.
Emer-G-Med Management and Crew
Lonehill Fire Station
City of Johannesburg Fire and HAZMAT Training Academy
Divisional Chief Freddy Taver (Mr T)
Station Commander Derrick Pedersen (Murdoch)
Station Commander Muhammad Nadeem Jogee (Face Man)
Station Commander Anthony Kok (Hannibal)
Victim: Charles Loubscher (Moppie)
Johannesburg Metro Police Department
Basic Petrochemical Fire Fighting course sponsored by Sasol Secunda