People often see rescue workers as young and strong men, because they often work in perilous situations. Few believe that someone can rush into danger when they enter retirement age.
However, a rescue team made up of seven old men exists in Tân Trung Commune in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang.
They often save people who face difficulties or are involved in accidents along the Vàm Nao River.
The Vàm Nao River is about 6.5km in length, full of obstacles and treacherous parts. It is an intersection of the Tiền and Hậu rivers. There are strong currents and whirlpools where the three rivers meet, meaning many boats have floundered in the area and a number of people have died.
All seven members of the rescue team are around 70 years old.
Dương Văn Lợi, 68, head of the team, told the Tiền phong (Vanguard) newspaper that most accidents happen at night. The victims were usually strangers to the area who were unaware of the dangerous waters.
The senior rescuers pooled their money to buy a boat and lifejackets. The team often goes on patrol up and down the river. On hearing a call for help, they’re ready to jump in.
When there is an accident, Lợi acts as the leader and assigns the duties for each member. One throws the lifebuoy, one jumps into the river to grab hold of the victim whereas the others help pulling them back into the boat.
After bringing the victim on board, Lợi gives them first aid if necessary and contacts their family.
Dương Văn Tích, 70, a member of the rescue team said they refuse payment for their work.
More than 10 years ago, they saved a woman and her son. The mother tried to give them VNĐ200,000 (US$8.7), but they refused. Tích’s granddaughter ended up marrying the boy, meaning the incident had a happy ending and the elderly rescuer gained a grandson. — VNS