Four VICSES units perform river rescue at Myrtleford

Four VICSES units perform river rescue at Myrtleford

18/10/2021, 4:58 PM

17 Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers from four units staged a successful rescue yesterday, when three people became stranded on a river bank, near Myrtleford, on the Ovens River.

A group of four had entered the river on an inflatable device which suffered damage, stranding three members of the group for around four hours. The fourth managed to swim across and raise the alarm, with VICSES Myrtleford Unit dispatched to the scene. Requiring further support from Land-Based Swift Water Rescue (LBSWR)-trained volunteers, the volunteers contacted VICSES Bright Unit and VICSES Chiltern Unit, each sending a LBSWR-capable member.

Five Myrtleford members then arrived and, having located the stranded group, Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the control agency, Victoria Police (VP) assisting in the growing multi-agency response, with a further LBSWR-qualified volunteer arriving from VICSES Tallangatta Unit, and another volunteer from VICSES Wangaratta Unit to assist.

The volunteers developed a rescue plan and, having received approval with Victoria Police Search and Rescue, positioned a crew with upstream spotters and another, downstream, as backups.

The rescue proceeded with a throwbag containing a link to the rope on the other side, thrown into the water upstream of the stranded threesome.

Having grasped the rope, with another attached to Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), they pulled on their PFDs and, one at a time, held the throwbag as they released themselves into the current. This created a pendulum effect, so they could swing across the river to where the volunteers were located, and be pulled from the water. The throw bag was then returned to each remaining member of the stranded group, who repeated the same steps until they were all back on firm ground.

Quote attributable to VICSES Bright Unit Deputy Controller Graham Gales:

“The training enabled volunteers from four different units with the qualification to work together as one team. A great effort and testamant to the skill and versatility of our VICSES volunteers.”