Flood Rescue Operators Dive for New Skills

08/04/2019 12:11 PM

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Nine NSW SES volunteers are the first in the state to complete a new intensive flood rescue program developed by the NSW SES. The program delivers specialised flood rescue environment training for people trapped in water. 

​“The program is quite significant because it sets out a flood rescue-specific accreditation pathway to nationally recognised qualifications,” says Co-Chairman of the SES Flood Operations and Rescue Capability Development Group, Christopher Blogg. 

“It establishes common standards for further engagement with the other rescue agencies across borders.”

NSW SES has worked with rescue agencies across Australia throughout the development of the program. 

The nine volunteers are from across NSW: Bega, Kiama, Leeton, Shellharbour, Tumut & Ulladulla.

“If we had a major flood and needed the support of other agencies like Fire and Rescue, RFS or even Surf Life Saving, this qualification would ensure that everyone has the same high level of skills,” says Chris.

Requiring more than 45 hours of training and routine re-certification, the program is demanding and not for the faint-hearted. Although the safety of NSW SES volunteers is paramount, the physical and leadership qualities, and the personal commitment required to complete the program and work as a Flood Rescue Operator are high. 

“Not everyone has what it takes to make it through,” says Chris.

The program was held at the Tumut River in the Snowy Mountains. It’s the ideal venue as the river’s hydrology is similar to a naturally flooded environment. The river provides features volunteers will be exposed to in real-life flood rescues.

“It may look attractive and tranquil, but it’s certainly not a river for the unprepared.

“It’s cold, there are many natural and constructed obstructions, and the dense water carries a lot of force.”

The new program includes interactive on-line training modules and two instructor-led practical courses covering land-based water rescue and in-water rescue. 

In-Water Rescue operators will only enter the water as the highest risk and last rescue option. Where as Land Based Water Rescue teaches volunteers how to help someone who has fallen into floodwater, ideally without getting into hazardous water themselves.

“The courses are designed test volunteers in simulated real-life scenarios so they’re prepared for whatever challenges they face in dangerous, real-life water rescues,” says Chris.

“The training held at Tumut was designed to test the viability of the training and equipment standards required to meet with expectations of SES, the State Rescue Board, and our communities during large flooding events.”

The program was developed by the SES Capability Branch with extensive in-put and from our most experienced trainers, safety officers and a team of in-field practitioners.

It contains key parts and scenarios of flood rescue training such as: night-time, cars surrounded by water, urban environments, drains and structures.

“Our courses provide qualified levels of competency, but the learning never finishes as our volunteers undergo regular rigorous training, skills development and certification to keep at the top of their game.  

“The depth of skill and expertise of our volunteers is our single biggest asset.”

This year NSW SES volunteers have already undertaken 36 flood rescues and training days such as this one are a timely reminder to the public that it is never safe to enter flood waters.  

All images are thanks to Ripple Group www.ripple.group

Flood Rescue Training

Flood Rescue Training

Flood Rescue Training

Flood Rescue Training

Flood Rescue Training

Flood Rescue Training

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