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Man keeps people safe from river's perils

By CAI HONG in Beijing and CANG WEI in Nanjing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-10-25 09:34
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Editor's note: As the Communist Party of China celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding this year, China Daily talks to CPC members whose service to the nation and the people reflects the Party's spirit.

The team of volunteer lifesavers rescues a drowning man in Suqian, Jiangsu province, in 2019. HUANG HONGZHI/FOR CHINA DAILY

In the wee hours of Sept 14, Wang Aidong and his team of lifesaving volunteers rescued a mother of two children from a river in Suqian, Jiangsu province.

The woman had jumped in the river to drown herself after fighting with her husband. The husband tried to pull her from the water but failed.

Nearby residents called Wang, 63, leader of Suqian's ancient Yellow River rescue team, for help.

Thirteen years ago Wang got involved with rescues along the old section of the Yellow River in Suqian. By now, his rescue team has saved 225 people.

The Yellow River flows from the Bayan Har Mountains, in Western China's Qinghai province, through nine provinces and empties into the Bohai Sea near Dongying, Shandong province.

It was sheer chance that Wang joined the lifesaving team. In early winter 2008, an old vegetable vendor fell into the river.

Wang, who happened to be nearby doing morning exercises, and three college students pulled the man out.

Several days later, a 6-year-old girl fell into the river. And by chance, Wang was there again and took the child, who was not breathing, to the hospital, saving her life.

The two accidents kept Wang sleepless. He learned that dozens of people drown in the river every year despite the safety measures in place.

Wang approached the three college students who helped save the vegetable vendor about forming a rescue team. He took 30,000 yuan ($4,700) from money he received in compensation for his house being demolished and bought a secondhand rescue boat for the team.

The rescue team has an office in a park close to the river. Wang lives in the room.

"I can immediately respond to calls for help," he said. "Every time someone is rescued, I feel like I'm on the top of the world for a few days.

"We want to keep the river safe."

However, Wang is not physically fit for rescues. Several doctors have told him he has heart arrhythmia and could die of cardiac arrest at any time.

Nevertheless, ignoring the warnings, Wang has stayed with the team.

After saving a person in June 2010, he had to take heart medicine, then passed out and was revived only after four hours of emergency treatment at a hospital.

"I cherish my life. But every rescue operation is the most urgent thing," he said. "We have expected and unexpected risks when accidents happen."

He has written several wills for his family, the rescue team and even the local organization of the Communist Party of China, of which he is a member.

"If the worst were to happen to me, I hope the rescue team would move on, keeping an eye on the river so that the local people will be safe."

Wang enlisted in military service at age 16 and cleaned parks and a railway station in his spare time.

He was honorably discharged from the military in 1982 and worked in a prosecutorial department in Suqian.

He is always ready to help when needed.

Sun Lijun, deputy editor-in-chief of Suqian Daily, said, "Wang would find something else to do to help others if he hadn't begun the rescue team."

Touched by what the team has done, Suqian residents have joined it in increasing numbers. The team now has more than 47,000 registered volunteers.

The CPC Central Committee gave Wang an outstanding Party member award in June for his willingness to always help others.

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