Guardian Angels and Superheroes


There are superheroes everywhere.

Ordinary people who transform into extraordinary individuals performing extraordinary feats.

Caught in a fiery inferno?

Trapped beneath raging waters?

You don’t need a comic book superhero with his undies on the outside.

You need to have a look at the emergency rescue services.

timthumb-1.phpIn South Africa most of the emergency rescue services personnel are reservists and volunteers.

The ones who do this as full time jobs earn less than a petrol attendant.

Yet, everyday they go out there and put their lives in danger to save others.

Most of the time we don’t think about them very much.

Except when you need them.

Then you pray for them.

Centrum Guardians is a programme that began almost six years ago and has blossomed into an incredible programme that recognises and rewards emergency services personnel for outstanding courage, bravery and going beyond the call of duty.

I am ashamed to say that until last week, I had never heard of it.

news_7394_1676That is a travesty.

We should all know about it.

We should all make a point of it.

This is how it works…

Every year emergency services personnel are asked to nominate colleagues who have shown incredible bravery and heroism.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

These people, like Clark Kent, are self-effacing, humble and quite often simply do not see that what they do is worthy of praise.

“I’m just doing my job,” they say.

A stringent judging process narrows the semi-finalists and each situation is painstakingly re-created and filmed.

Last night I sat with my family and watched the drama unfold.

At the end of each insert we said, “That one has to win. Surely there can’t be anything better.”

And each time we were wrong.

We watched a man wade through the current atop one of the country’s highest waterfalls to rescue a woman about to be washed over the edge.

We watched as men and women spent 6 hours up to their waists and mud and icy water pulling the victims of a bus accident out a window one by one.

We watched as air rescue picked up over 150 people stranded by floods, and a couple who stood clutching some reeds for over 9 hours while they fought to rescue them.

Choosing a winner here is far more daunting than Pop Idols or X Factor. Every one of the men and women is a hero in their own right.

Audience research showed that most South Africans didn’t know things like this happened here or that people like these walked the same city pavements we do.

They thought “Only in America.”

They thought wrong.

Just STOP for a second today and visit Centrum Guardians.

The 2013 winners have already been chosen – read their story here.

That doesn’t mean it’s over.

Team-Drive_Underwater-Rescue_HoutBay-1-440x293Join the Facebook page and send in your story of how a Guardian helped you, your family or saved the life of someone you loved.

Leave them a message just to say, “Thanks, for having my back, for watching over me, for being there.”

And next time you pass a Guardian, give them a smile, say thank you, wave hello.

One day it might be your life they’re saving.

Find Centrum Guardians:






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