The Mountain Club of South Africa

Emergencies

Mountain emergencies

Click here for National MCSA search & rescue numbers.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS
Metro Rescue: 021 937 0300 (for rescue and reporting crime)
10177 (medical assistance and rescue services)
TM Aerial Cableway info: 021 424 0015
Cableway weather line: 021 424 8181, or
Follow on Twitter @tablemountainca for open/closed updates.
Cellphone tips
  • Store the emergency numbers as favourites on your phone, or list them preceded by ‘AA’ so they stay top of your contact list.
  • Also store the number of an MCSA friend you can contact in an emergency.
  • No signal? Walk up to the nearest edge of the mountain within sight of a built-up area.
  • An SMS/text message often gets through where no call is possible. Send it to yourself as well – if you receive your own SMS, you know it’s gone through.
  • Try to save battery power and remain contactable.
  • No airtime? Dial 112 (or 911, now linked to 112) – this is a free call. Use this as a last resort only – there may be considerable delays before you’re connected to Metro Rescue.
  • Store one or more personal emergency contacts on your phone under ICE1, ICE2 etc. Rescue teams will search under ICE (In Case of Emergency) if you’re unable to speak.
Crimes on the mountain

Please report all crime-related incidents – this will help ensure reliable statistics are kept, and urge the authorities to put security plans in place.

  • Call Metro Rescue on 021 937 0300.
  • Inform Table Mountain Watch on Twitter @TableMntnWatch.
  • Email the newsletter Editor at connect@nullmcsacapetown.co.za so that our members are kept informed.
Weather forecasts

No single site gets it right consistently, so consult a variety to get a reasonable idea, and always take gear for all weather conditions.

Mountain safety guidelines
  • Never hike alone – four is an ideal size for a party.
  • Choose a route suitable for your group’s ability, fitness and experience.
  • Tell someone your up and down routes and expected return time – and stick to that plan.
  • Always be prepared for bad weather. Never go on the mountain without:
    – Proper wind- and rain-proof clothing, even on a sunny day
    – Torches with spare batteries and globes
    – Good footwear – strong boots or shoes with non-slip soles
    – Extra food and water; a flask of tea or some other beverage
    – A rucksack to carry it all, to keep your arms and hands free.
  • Go with somebody who genuinely knows the way, or carry a guidebook, map or route description.
  • Keep to the clearly marked routes on well-used paths. Heed signs advising of danger and don’t take short cuts or go down unknown ravines.
  • Every party should have a leader. The larger the group the greater the need for one.
  • Keep together and travel at the pace of the slowest. Never split up and go in different directions.
  • Watch the weather and time. Turn back if bad weather threatens, you’re going slower than expected, or the route is no longer easy to follow.
  • On your return, tell whoever is expecting you that you’re back.
  • Ensure someone has a cellphone with the correct emergency numbers and sufficient battery power for the day. In an emergency, switch your phone to whatever power saving mode is available to ensure longer battery life.

In an emergency

You’re with someone who is injured
  • Stay calm and stay together.
  • Try to ascertain exactly what the injuries are and whether you can help.
  • Consider whether you should report the injury immediately. A few minutes spent observing reactions and making the person comfortable is time well spent.
  • Approach the patient, if safe to do so, and apply first aid. Check responsiveness, then ABC:
    – Check Airway
    – Check Breathing
    – Check Circulation and stop bleeding
  • If you suspect spinal damage, especially the neck, do not move the person unless it is necessary to do so for safety reasons.
You need to go for help
  • Leave someone with the patient if possible – it is imperative that they remain with them until the rescuers arrive.
  • For safety’s sake, it is preferable to send two people for help.
  • Do not run if it is unsafe: you’re no help if you don’t make it to a phone!
  • Identify landmarks on your way down so you can describe the exact location of the accident or guide a rescue party to the scene.
  • In the Western Cape call 021 937 0300 or 10177. Give these details:
    – your phone number
    – where you are
    – where the accident occurred
    – what happened
    – the nature of the injuries
  • Stay at the phone! The mountain rescue leader will contact you for further details. If necessary, send someone else back to help.
  • Remain available to give full details of the accident to the rescue leader – where, when, how and what.
You’re lost or trapped in the mountains
  • Don’t panic. If you told someone where you were going and when you were returning, a rescue team will come looking for you.
  • If you get lost or enter an area that looks unsafe, retrace your steps – don’t push on into the unknown.
  • If you cannot find the path you left, look for a safe route – preferably down broad, open slopes – making sure that at all times you can retrace your steps.
  • If trapped, seek shelter. It’s important to get out of the wind, but don’t hide yourself so well you’re impossible to find.
  • Don’t descend an unknown ravine. A cliff or waterfall may be hard to spot in dim light or rain.
  • Be aware of conspicuous landmarks. Even in thick mist these can be useful when describing your location to rescuers via the phone.
Someone hasn’t returned from a hike/climb
  • Call 021 937 0300.
  • Say the incident is mountain-related.
  • Give your name and phone number.
  • Stay at the phone – someone will contact you for further details.
  • Depending on the nature of the incident, a rescue operation may be started immediately or the rescue leader may decide to wait until first light or improved weather.