F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S stands for “Fire Rescue Evacuation Disaster Distress Incident Emergency Services”. We are situated in the jurisdiction of the Okhahlamba Local Municipal.

Although we have been active in the area for more than ten years, we became officially known as F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S in June 2022.

The team is lead by Chief Freddie Halgreen of the Okhahlamba Fire and Emergency Services. He is a full time Fire Chief plus traffic Superintendent, a man of strong integrity, vast knowledge and a passion to assist. It was therefore not long before he had volunteers who joined him on emergency calls, learning from the best and having the same views: to assist those who need us.

The team currently comprises of thirteen local volunteers, each with varying qualifications and experience: Advance Life Support paramedic, Basic Life Support medics, First Aid level 3 responders, a rescue technician, high angle rescue, divers, hazmat, disaster management, fire investigation and firefighters.

While each of the volunteers hold full time employment outside of their involvement with F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S, they dedicate their time and personal resources to assisting the residents and visitors to the area.

F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S is equipped to respond to fire fighting situations, mountain rescue, motor vehicle accidents and entrapments, disasters and distress, medical and trauma intervention before transportation to hospital … all at no cost to those whom they assist.

The area they currently serve is rather expansive and covers Oliviershoek Pass and the northern Drakensberg to the N3 Colenso/Winterton offramp, the Central Drakensberg upto the Lesotho border.

The goal of F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S is to further their training and obtain more highly necessary lifesaving equipment. They strive to deliver their best with every call, no matter the situation. They do not seek recognition, but rather to know that they did everything within their power to make a difference.

Often they are required to work in remote areas, facing many challenges both with equipment, supplies and outdated tools. Their equipment and supplies are collected in Pietermaritzburg and new, updated tools come at a high cost … not to mention the price of fuel. Unfortunately, as a volunteer group, funding is a constant challenge and they rely heavily on the kind donations from local establishments as well as individuals.

F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S. works predominantly with the services offered by Netcare 911, both ambulance and helicopter service, as well as the local EMRS.

A day in the life of F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S is one filled with more highs than lows, with much laughter, some tears, hard work and conquering more than they thought they are capable of. But there are also times where they face devastation and grief, having to comfort families and one another.

F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S, as cliché as it sounds, is a family: a slightly dysfunctional yet close-knitted family, who support one another in coping with hard calls as well as in a personal capacity.

Should you require the services offered by F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S, please call Chief Freddie Halgreen on 071 168 3260 or 082 512 1281. You will need to provide as much information as possible regarding the emergency situation plus a pin location, as this assists the team in responding efficiently and effectively.

F.R.E.D.D.I.E.S … by the Community, for the Community.

Written by and attributed to : Charmaine King