Face-to-face training back with a bang

Face-to-face training back with a bang

25/10/2021, 4:51 PM

As recent COVID-19 restrictions begin ease across the State, our Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers were back at it this weekend, catching up with much some needed face-to-face training.

VICSES Wonthaggi Unit in the state’s east hosted a Road Crash Rescue (RCR) training event Thursday with the San Remo Unit, also observed by volunteers from VICSES Inverloch Unit.

The training provides an opportunity for members to hone their skills and understand their options at a RCR scene. As part of the exercise, volunteers were initially taught how to move a vehicle, rather than working at the edge of a sharp drop-off.

After this, the Unit Controller had the volunteers work through a complex scenario involving multiple patients and mechanical entrapments, having to relocate vehicles to provide better access.

The live exercise also had a command and control aspect, so the volunteers could work as part of a cluster of units over a large geographical area. With ten volunteers from two units in two vehicles, a good command structure is vital to maintain situational awareness and effectiveness.

Meanwhile at Bellarine, VICSES Deputy Controller, Training, Nicole Shortis divided the volunteers into three teams undertaking three different scenarios to prepare for storm and flooding events. The first exercise involved a simulated roof damage scenario, the second focused on sandbagging techniques, and the third using acrow props to stabilise damaged eaves.

Taking around 2.5 hours, Nicole regards the weekly training and scenarios as crucial, with the volunteers using large equipment requiring experience to safely use.

The night before at VICSES Central West HQ, volunteers performed a search training exercise set up by Regional Officer Training, Justin Navas. With the focus usually on incident management, the eight volunteers welcomed the refresher on search strategies to find missing people and the evidence they leave behind, which might suggest where they are. 

Justin had laid out some items during the afternoon for a missing male, with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt abandoned in the search area for the volunteers to find.

Having received a briefing on where the man would last have been seen, the volunteers searched the parkland for the evidence, locating it within 90 minutes. They will put these skills to use several times a year when assisting surrounding units with search operations.

In the Northeast of the state, over the weekend, VICSES 4WD instructor Graham Gales ran a two-day course for two groups, with one set of volunteers at Barnawartha and another at Marysville.

With VICSES having recently updated their test requirements, the volunteers had to demonstrate skill at three water crossings; fit snow chains on their tyres; demonstrate changing a 4WD tyre - three times - as well as driving on three different off-bitumen surfaces such as sand, dirt and mud.

With so much for VICSES volunteers to do, the return to training will be welcome news for them and their communities. 

Quote attributable to VICSES Wonthaggi Unit Controller, Jarrod Hargreaves:

“Our model as a cluster is to respond with additional resources in the first instance, by requesting them early, which we can cancel if we don’t need them. By bringing volunteers together to hone their skills, they can meet each other in a controlled environment and familiarise themselves with the different vehicles and equipment owned by the units.”

Quote attributable to VICSES Deputy Controller, Training, Nicole Shortis:

“We’ve been covering some storm damage in our area, but we are also the primary RCR unit so we’re doing that and getting out the all-terrain vehicle for beach access and casualty handling. So, we’re getting some of our newer members to go through a test scenario so they can be signed off to drive it, as well as getting it on and off the trailer!”

Quote attributable to VICSES Bright Unit Deputy Controller, Graham Gales:

“After the last two years, all these people who have signed on have been in limbo, so you’ve got to get them reinvigorated. After all, they need the training before they can assist their communities.”

To read more stories about our work in Road Crash Rescue (RCR), click here.