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Malvern's big night out

Published 06/08/2012

Malvern Unit volunteers run a mock crime scesne command post.

A joint training exercise between Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and Victoria Police sought to expose members on both sides to the reality of a crime scene.

When members of the Malvern SES Unit arrived for their regular training last Thursday night, they didn’t know they’d soon be searching for a missing 80-year-old woman in parkland, backed up by police helicopters and dogs.

While it was a mock crime scene, it was treated like the real thing. Under the scenario, police attended parkland looking for a woman who had gone missing from a nursing home. A member of the public had spotted a woman matching her description being led into the area by a man.

Stonnington Police called on the SES to provide lighting to the dark terrain and establish a command post, which they did in short order.

A line search turned up clothing and, ultimately, a dummy representing the missing woman. Volunteers provided basic first aid and securely removed the woman from the area on a stretcher. Meanwhile, police officers catalogued and photographed evidence and secured the area.

As a police helicopter circled overhead, a member of the police dog squad searched the area and turned up a weapon.

As the scene unfolded, each agency had the opportunity to see their counterparts at work and gain an insight into their tools and processes.

That was the real benefit of the exercise, according to Malvern Unit Controller Philip Munslow.

“It is hugely beneficial for us to work with other agencies. Interoperability is great for the community as it provides a greater response,” he said.

“A lot of work went in to planning tonight’s exercise and it’s really paid off.

“Junior members both at SES and Victoria Police may not have been exposed to significant crime scenes, so tonight gives them an opportunity to learn the protocols and procedures in a safe environment.

“Having that knowledge, and a good interagency relationship, is invaluable when we meet in the field.”

Victoria Police’s Adam Oswald, who is an Acting Sergeant at Malvern, agreed. The police officers involved in the exercise were all new to the job, he said, and had benefited greatly from the experience.

“We’re very keen to have this happen every six months,” he said.

“If SES and Victoria Police walk away from tonight having learned something, and with a better idea of how we can work together, then it’s been a success”.

Malvern SES Unit volunteer Jon Saunders participated in the training and said it had been the most involved and realistic he had attended.

“Being in the line search and having the Airwing come across and light up the whole scene – going from torch light to what felt like daylight - it was great to have those resources available in a training exercise,” he said.

“It was absolutely a success. It’s great to get to know our local emergency services.”