VICSES and SS&RS work together for Shepparton

VICSES and SS&RS work together for Shepparton

31/07/2023, 1:00 PM

Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) and Shepparton Search and Rescue (SS&RS) have signed a new Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) which secures an ongoing collaboration, to work together to support the communities of Greater Shepparton.

Since 1972, SS&RS - a Shepparton-based volunteer rescue organisation - has provided rescue services to their local community.

VICSES has long recognised the high standard of service provided by SS&RS during emergencies, and expects in the future that relationship to continue to deepen.

Presentation of MOU between VICSES and SS&RS at Shepparton, 2023 (photo credit: VICSES)

The new MOU replaces the previous commitment made four years ago, in 2019.

The MOU demonstrates the commitment of both organisations to working together, ensuring the services provided to our community are of the highest quality, providing a seamless and efficient response to all emergency calls. Such a response was mounted extensively throughout the October 2022 floods, as VICSES Tatura Unit volunteers worked closely with SS&RS crews across hundreds of water rescues.

Our VICSES Tatura Unit volunteers manage one of the biggest response areas in the state - which they share with SS&RS, who answer Sierra – or priority two – calls on the Benalla side of the Goulburn River.

With SS&RS situated to the west of the Goulburn, and the Peter Ross Edwards Causeway – Shepparton’s principal roadway - impassable for much of October last year, the previous MOU between VICSES and SS&RS became a crucial organising principle in how to manage the response area.

Once the Causeway was closed on Saturday 8th of October, the VICSES Tatura Unit volunteers were managing all Request for Assistance (RFAs) at Mooroopna, a town of 9,000, without assistance for three days.

Though Tatura had not been affected by floodwater, the power station at Mooroopna flooded. The power to the unit – and to Tatura – failed on October 9th.

The VICSES volunteer crew at Tatura kept their unit open with two small generators, and supporting them were two SS&RS volunteers trapped behind the flooded Causeway.

Shepparton has a long history of flooding, which includes events in 1870, 1916, 1974, 1993, 2010 and, most recently, last year in 2022, during the October flood event. The Goulburn River, which winds through flat plains around Shepparton and Mooroopna, is met by the Broken River near the Shepparton Botanic Gardens. This flow is then topped up by the Seven Rivers at Kialla, and Castle Creek at Arcadia.

This is why Shepparton is an important point of focus for VICSES, as it faces a high flood risk for a regional centre of its size. The MOU between VICSES and SS&RS will ensure that we can work as one; regarding day-to-day planning and emergency response, particularly during large scale emergencies.

With VICSES as control agency for flood and storm events, our volunteers are natural partners for SS&RS in managing the response to emergencies arising from severe weather events, and in supporting local communities to prepare for them.

From townships on the Murray to the north, throughout the Mallee, over and between the ranges to the east and around the central plains; from the Bellarine to Port Phillip Bay: our volunteers are ready.

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