Lo­cal am­bos ready to SORT it out

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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