How teamwork turned the tide for Bradley

Cape Town emergency medical teams celebrate a life well saved

Thursday, January 25 2024

In the silent dance between life and its fragility, lifeguards, emergency rescue and medical services personnel are the quiet heroes who bear an unimaginable weight in pursuit of saving lives. 

The embodiment of teamwork and camaraderie, they are not just responders but are the human connection that bridges despair to the possibility of a new beginning, representing compassion and care, often in the face of complex pressures. 

Netcare 911 emergency care practitioner Ernest Marx, base manager at Netcare N1 City and Netcare Blaauwberg Hospitals, recalls a particularly challenging week during the recent festive season. 

“On 2 January, three swimmers, ensnared in powerful currents off Cape Town’s Glen Beach, found themselves in a perilous situation. Teams including lifeguards from the City of Cape Town, paramedics from Western Cape Emergency Services, CSO Medical, Taurus Medical and Netcare 911 were on the scene that day – all working together, playing their parts in the collective efforts to save a life.”

Lifeguards on Camps Bay’s Glen Beach initiated chest compressions, later handing over to paramedics to continue resuscitation and advanced life support on 23-year-old Bradley Armenville, who against all odds, made a remarkable recovery after nearly drowning on 3 January this year. Photograph courtesy of Taurus Medical.


Bradley Armenville, pictured alongside the AMS aircraft on the day he got to meet his rescue team. According to Bradley, he recalls nothing after entering the water, and his first memory is waking up in the hospital. Of the ride of a lifetime in a medical rescue helicopter, he knows nothing – but at least he got to meet the people and see the magical machine that flew him to safety. Photograph courtesy of Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town


Two swimmers were safely assisted to shore, but there was heightened worry for the third swimmer, 23-year-old Bradley Armenville, as he hovered on the brink of life and death. Bradley, along with another near-drowning victim, had entered the water to aid a youngster who got swept away by the current.   

After pulling the swimmers from the ocean, lifeguards initiated chest compressions, later handing over to paramedics to continue resuscitation and advanced life support on Bradley. 

"After some time, spontaneous circulation fortunately returned, but the patient was not out of the woods," shares Ernest. With time as a critical factor, an emergency medical helicopter from AMS airlifted Bradley to Groote Schuur Hospital. There, against all odds, he began a remarkable recovery. 

Ernest recalls a difficult conversation with Bradley's father, Mr Basil Armenville, on the beach that fateful day. “Bradley's condition was dire, but his father's conviction that his son would survive held firm. ‘God is testing us,’ he said, words that later unfolded in Bradley's incredible recovery.

The story does not end there, however. Bradley and his family recently contacted Ernest, expressing a heartfelt wish to personally meet the entire team to convey their profound gratitude for saving Bradley’s life.

When we caught up with Bradley after the event attended by Councillor Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health of the City of Cape Town and a large group comprising lifeguards, emergency rescue and medical services personnel – all of whom were present on the day Bradley almost drowned – the quietly spoken young man was still talking with difficulty following his horrific ordeal.

“I am thankful and overwhelmed by all of this. To think that there were so many people who fought so hard to keep me alive. I just want to say thank you to them for everything they did for me,” he says.

Bradley recalls nothing between when he entered the water and waking up in the hospital. Even of his ride in a medical rescue helicopter, he recalls nothing – but he was overjoyed when he got to meet the people who saved him and see the magical machine that flew him to safety.

“After an extended and demanding festive season, this encounter is truly heartwarming for members of the emergency services – it was a beautiful moment for us when we met up with the family and a healthy, vibrant Bradley. We're so happy that he has recovered so well, and it means a lot to us that he has taken the time to reach out to us,” says Ernest.

In a season where not all misadventures had such happy endings, this reunion vividly paints a picture of resilience and the joy of a second chance at life. Most importantly, it serves as a tribute to the power of teamwork.


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Issued by:  MNA on behalf of the Netcare 911 
For media enquiries contact:  Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clementine Forsthofer
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