Give us rescue resources: SES
LOCAL SES chief Bob Taylor has called for the establishment of a local swift water rescue team to cut the time taken to respond to emergencies such as last week’s dramatic mid-stream rescue of a tourist.
Mr Taylor said last week’s civilian rescue from fast-running water in Mossman Gorge won’t be the last.
“We need a swift-water team in Mossman,” Mr Taylor said.
“We’ve had at least six serious incidents in five years.
“We’ve had drownings, we’ve had people trapped on rocks.
“It’s time the fire brigade pull their finger out and train someone local to be able to respond.”
Mr Taylor contacted the Gazette to correct an error in last week’s story “Gorge rescue ’piece of cake’.
The Gazette reported that the SES took an hour to reach Mossman Gorge after a tourist was stranded on a rock in mod-stream.
The swift water rescue team was in fact from the Queensland Fire and Rescue service, which has responsibility for rescues involving fast-flowing water.
Local Terrence Gibson and the Korean tourist he assisted waited for an hour on the northern bank of the Mossman River before the rescue team arrived.
Mr Gibson said he doubted the tourist would have been able to hold on to the rock she was clutching until the fire brigade arrived.
Russell Matthews, the inspector for QF&R northern command in Cairns, said crews from the auxiliary stations in Port Douglas and Mossman would not be trained any time soon to enter the water to assist in rescues.
Instead, a number of local staff would be given “level one” swift water rescue training.
“We’re working at the moment on how we can deliver training to Port Douglas and Mossman stations this year,” Mr Matthews said.
“We know it can be very difficult for auxiliary units, where most people work fulltime, to get time off to do three or four days’ training.”
The training would involve learning how to use “throw lines” and securing a scene to assist the fully-equipped Cairns-based team.
Mr Matthews said basic training and equipment was no substitute for a full-scale swift-water rescue team.
“When our guys enter the water they’re wearing wet suits, buoyancy vests, helmets. They take a vest for the victim which helps them float if they get separated from the rescuer,” he said.
“It’s a totally different environment to the floodwater rescues which the SES are experts in.
“There are so many hidden dangers in fastflowing waters.
“Attempting to rescue someone in those circumstances is very dangerous.”