Dog walk goes wrong prompting high drama, high-angle rescue

Dog walk goes wrong prompting high drama, high-angle rescue

12/10/2021, 3:16 PM

A huge multi-agency rescue today at Aireys Inlet saw two crews of Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers mobilised, after a man and his dog found themselves trapped in a hazardous section of the jagged south-west coastline. The man became trapped when attempting to rescue his dog from the 11-metre high cliffside location.

Responding from the VICSES Torquay Unit in a rescue and support vehicle, a team of six volunteers attended alongside two volunteers from the neighbouring VICSES Lorne Unit. Arriving on scene at 10.45am, the volunteers were greeted by two police vehicles, one ambulance, Park Victoria and four Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) vehicles already in attendance. 

The VICSES volunteers split into two teams, completing a reconnaissance from the beach below with the other crew at the top of the cliff, in order to establish best access points for high-angle rescue; helping FRV to better inform their decision as to the best method of rescue. 

Our VICSES volunteers then returned to the beachside access point in four-wheel drives, carrying FRV ladders to erect on the beach below, with ropes and safety equipment to stabilise the 9-metre high ladders. 

Communication was crucial throughout the rescue effort, as VICSES volunteers were required to find the best vantage point, allowing the FRV member to abseil down to the patient and his dog and, using a harnesses. 

Once they had descended, the volunteers had two debriefs with the incident controller from FRV, reflecting on the quality of the recommendations and communication. 

Quote attributable to VICSES Commander, Torquay Unit Mark Heaysman:

“Communication across the agencies was superb in this case, and speaks to how well we work together when we work as one.”

“We all had a job and we all knew what we were doing. There was a cliff-face, and we made a decision to bring all the equipment around on the four-wheel drive, but we had only two hours until the tide would cover up our access point, so we dropped the gear at the scene and returned the four-wheel drive to an elevated area.”