Queensland firefighters get air rescue training ahead of summer disaster season

Queensland’s emergency services have dealt with an unprecedented number of natural disasters over the past four years and are undergoing training to ensure they are as prepared as they can be.

With another season looming, emergency authorities have geared up again in light of recommendations made by the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry to join forces to battle floods.

Outside the Queensland Government’s Air Rescue hangar at Archerfield airport on Brisbane’s southside, the team has been training crews from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES), winching a rescuer down to a ute tray to simulate a rescue from a vehicle trapped in a flooded causeway.

Senior air crew officer Greg Beer said it was the type of scenario that occurred all too often.

“Unfortunately, that’s what happens ? if it’s flooded, forget it,” he said.

“Sometimes people basically forget it, and it’s probably the one bit of information they should really adhere to because this is what we do quite often.”

The two groups are brushing up on skills ahead of the summer disaster season.

QFES station manager Greg Duncan said he was glad to receive the training.

“It’s serious business. You don’t want to be doing it for the first time never having been in a helicopter before,” he said.

The training programs started after the Queensland floods in 2011.

‘It’s going to enhance the rescue ability on both sides’

QFES technical rescue co-ordinator Douglas May said it was a watershed experience for the two groups.

“The 2011 floods were unprecedented for rescue work for both our services,” he said.

The Government Air Rescue group winched 43 people out of the Grantham flood, in which 12 people died.

Elsewhere, QFES teams were likewise tackling unfolding tragedies.

The Flood Commission of Inquiry recognised the importance of these services working together to perform rescues in remote and dangerous locations.

Lessons have ended up flowing both ways, with firefighters providing swift water training to air crews.

Mr Beer said it had been a highly successful collaboration.

“It’s been fantastic. Not only the training – we’re both sharing ideas on how to do things, they’re the experts on the ground, in the water and we’d like to think our training allows us to provide the expertise from above,” he said.

“Not only can we winch them into these areas, but we can also observe where the dangerous areas are and then, if required, we can winch them in and that’s what the training is all about.”

Mr May said it would make a big difference to future rescue operations.

“It’s going to enhance the rescue ability on both sides and make it safer for everyone as well,” he said.

Queensland Government Air Rescue teams will also train QFES crews in Townsville and Cairns.

Source: ABC News