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Boat skills ensure units are ready for rescue

Boat skills ensure units are ready for rescue

Published 05/12/2016
Seymour SES Unit regularly run boat skills training and maintenance on the Goulburn River.

“Over the summer we aim to train every couple of weeks to keep our boating skills maintained,” explains Christine Welsh, Seymour Unit Controller. They took their new Poly Rigid Hull Rescue Boat out for a run on the Goulburn River.

Our Victoria SES boats are used to support other emergency service agency responses to flood rescue, marine search and rescue, logistical support and also as safety vessels in community water events. We have 95 different boats across the state used to perform different tasks. Most units have at least one boat for water rescue and emergency.

Seymour Unit makes sure they train at different times of the day and night to ensure they get experience in all conditions. Being prepared is essential in any emergency – flood, storm, landslide, earthquake, tsunami or rescue – in order to act quickly during an incident and recover faster after an emergency strikes.

“Our training consists of search techniques in water and punting drills where the coxswain has to take the boat from one side of the river to the other without moving backward or forward,” Christine says. This is actually a very difficult manoeuvre especially in varying flows of water.

“Nosing drills require the coxswain to use a lot of skill to nose the boat gently into a designated area. This is achieved by using both forward and reverse to maintain a slow steady speed,” Christine adds.

Other training conducted by the Seymour unit includes lowering and raising of the anchor, beaching drills, as well as towing and recovery of other boats and what to do if your boat breaks down, including how to change a propeller.

The unit doesn’t practice a man overboard drill because it can be too dangerous with varying water conditions and currents. So the team mimic a water rescue by throwing other items overboard in place of a real person. Christine says, “It’s very handy to know how to come alongside a casualty without putting the casualty in danger or causing any injuries!”

The unit also practise hazardous launches. This involves deploying the boat even if there is no boat ramp available. This can be quite a dangerous exercise if not conducted properly so we make sure our guys are all well trained in the technique.

Christine reminds everyone to put safety first as the hot summer weather approaches and Victoria’s rivers draw more visitors. “Be mindful of the current, as it can be quite forceful and if you’re not a strong swimmer it can be lethal.”

And if the river is flooding NEVER walk, ride or drive through floodwater.