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Vicky Govender: A tribute to the man known as ‘Mr ER24’

On Sunday 15 October 2017, Vicky Govender was cremated in his red ER24 flight suit at Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium in Durban.

“We dressed him in his flight suit because he died a hero. He died while on his way to save someone else and I wanted to honour that moment. He loved ER24, he loved his uniform and he loved his van. He really gave his whole life to ER24,” said Nancy Govender, Vicky’s wife.

Vicky, a medic from ER24 Highway (KZN), died during the early hours of Friday 13 October 2017. Vicky and his partner, Tracy Bederson, were involved in a serious collision on Tuesday 10 October during the Durban storms when they placed their lives on the line to save others.

Vicky played an integral part in ER24 and in his community and this was evident in the emotional send-off that he got on the day of his funeral.

A procession of hundreds of ambulances, metro police vehicles and people from all walks of life came to say their final goodbyes to the hero known as Mr ER24.

“He paid the ultimate sacrifice and he deserved a great farewell. I believe that is exactly what he got,” said Derrick Banks, branch manager of ER24 Highway (KZN).

Nancy and Vicky would have been married for 27 years on 22 December. No one could deny that Nancy was Vicky’s whole life and an emotional Nancy spoke to us about the void her husband leaves behind.

“He gave me a lot of love and I will really miss him. On the morning of his last surgery he said he loved me and that I must wait for him, not realising that Vicky was not coming back to me. A big part of my life is gone with him forever. He loved saving lives, he loved helping people and he never expected any recognition for it,” said Nancy.

Vicky also leaves behind his three children, twin girls Tacia and Tanya (23) and Mershin, his 10-year-old son.

“We feel so proud being his children and we are so proud of our dad. We’d like to thank everyone who has been with us through this difficult time. Everyone has been hailing him as a hero, but I knew he was a hero way before that. I am proud that everyone got to see him the way we saw him,” said Tacia.

“As a medic, you know the risks and you take those risks but it still remains a massive loss to our team. He truly had a heart of a 21-year-old and everybody in Merebank knew Vicky as Mr ER24. If you needed something Vicky was there in his ambulance. Although he could be quite stubborn at times, patient care always came first. We will miss him a lot,” said Derrick.

Josh Naidoo, Vicky’s friend for the last 20 years and also his colleague, remembers him as a jovial person.

“Ballie (Vicky’s nickname) was someone you could always confide in. He could never say no and always wanted to help. In EMS, regardless of who you work for, you are all family and that is why something like this really hits you hard,” said Josh.

For Athish Mohun, another colleague of Vicky, his smile and jokes will forever be missed.

“He showed me the ‘ins and outs’ of the emergency medical service. There are two things about Vicky that always stood out: You don’t go home in a bad mood and you don’t go home hungry,” laughs Athish.

“I know ER24 will never forget about us. We are still one big family.

Derrick helped me through this difficult time and I really want to give my gratitude to him,” said Nancy.

Rest in peace Vicky, you will remain a hero in our hearts. You are sorely missed by everyone at ER24.