04/02/2024 11:19 AM

More than 750 emergency service personnel have taken to waterways across the state today for the NSW State Emergency Service’s (SES) annual flood boat training exercise.  

Who Let The Boats Out is a multi-agency flood boat exercise, designed to strengthen core skills for on-water flood rescue and flood support operations. 

Led by the NSW SES as the lead agency for flood rescue in the state, the training exercise is now in its fourth year and is the largest simultaneous boating exercise in Australia.  

It involves over 185 vessels from NSW SES, NSW Police, VRA Rescue NSW, Surf Life Saving, Marine Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Maritime, and the ACT SES.    

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin said these training exercises provided essential on-water opportunities for SES personnel, especially in regional areas.

“Training means we're better prepared, and this benefits both emergency response personnel and the communities they are helping keep safe.” Ms Saffin said.

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York APM said participants practiced core flood boat skills such as manoeuvring, launching and docking vessels, search and rescue, recovering persons overboard, radio communications, troubleshooting boats, fire drills and navigation. 

“We have had flood rescue and flood support boats out this morning on Sydney Harbour and the Georges Rivers, right up north to the Tweed River, out to Broken Hill and down south to the Murray River,” Commissioner York said.  

“It’s a great opportunity for all agencies to exchange on-water expertise, so when there is an emergency, we can respond side by side with knowledge of each other's capabilities.  

“This exercise also gives participants an opportunity to further familiarise themselves with their local waterways, enhancing their operational effectiveness.”  

In 2023, NSW SES volunteers responded to 197 flood rescue incidents, some of which required the skills being practised in this exercise.   

Off the water, members of the incident management team will also experience a simulated high-pressure environment, similar to operational conditions where they may need to manage hundreds of flood rescue incidents per hour.  

Media enquiries: NSW SES Media 1800 067 234 or

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