Local ambos ready to SORT it out
THE region is in safe hands with senior officers at Port Douglas and Mossman ambulance stations part of a Special Operation Response Team (SORT) for natural disasters.
SORT can also respond to emergencies of high danger including bomb threats and sieges.
Port Douglas ambulance Officer-in-charge Craig Downing has been involved since the regional team first formed while Mossman OIC Ben Phips has just been appointed.
“The team was formed after a review post Cyclone Larry,” Mr Downing said.
“We had team members sent across to New Zealand for the earthquake, a team deployed for floods and Cyclone Yasi - we are fully capable of being deployed anywhere in a crisis as required.
“Myself and Ben have extra skills and knowledge in regards to disaster relief planning and participation and we don’t often get two neighbouring stations with the officers in charge on the same team.”
Mr Downing recently spent time in Mission Beach doing training with SORT and updating his skills by undergoing an annual operational deployment exercise.
“We had special operations team comprising of myself and others from the Cairns ambulance and also Townsville on a two-day operational exercise,” he said.
“It’s in preparation for upcoming cyclonic events or management of any significant incidents.
“We set up a fully operational field hospital capable of treating all medical emergencies which had millions of dollars worth of equipment in use.”
Part of the advanced training is learning how to provide emergency relief while heading into chemical, biological or radiological incidents as well as natural disasters.
In preparation for the wet season, which brings with it storms and cyclones, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service has also been busy promoting their new campaign “If it’s flooded, forget it”.
Firies will be visiting local schools warning students about the dangers of playing near flooded drains and creeks and urging drivers to steer clear of flooded roads.
QFRS Area Commander for Northern Command Russell Matthews said the region needs to avoid driving, walking, swimming or riding in floodwaters and be careful around waterways, especially the Mossman Gorge which is susceptible to flash-flooding with multiple swiftwater rescues in recent years.