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Battery-operated rescue tools power brigade
Apollo Bay is set to become the first CFA brigade in the state to carry a permanent set of battery-operated tools for vehicle rescue after being awarded a Victorian Government grant.
This week, the volunteer brigade will receive its own brand new Lukas ‘eDraulic’ rescue tools (a combi tool and small cutter) to be used for the time-critical task of cutting patients out of vehicles after an accident.
Although they are more expensive to buy and maintain, battery-powered rescue tools have some compelling advantages such as being easier to use and far quicker to set up.
When it comes to specialist rescue, Apollo Bay Fire Brigade services a fair proportion of the Great Ocean Road, working together with local SES units in often challenging circumstances among the area’s famous bushland, cliffs and slopes.
Captain Dave Howell said his members attended a large number of off-road incidents and sings the praises of battery-powered tools which – unlike the traditional hydraulic models – do not need to stay tethered to a cumbersome 50kg pump.
“The speed of setting up is a massive bonus given we often need to physically carry our gear out to the accident,” he said.
“And they are quiet too – which is much more comfortable for the patient and for the operators.”
Dave said he was stoked to be receiving the tools though a VESEP grant after many years of fundraising and advocating for their adoption at CFA.
“Our community has been fantastic with supporting us to make this purchase – this is something that will benefit not just the locals but tourists and holidaymakers passing through,” he said.
For David, who as captain balances the logistics of training, equipment, recruitment and turnouts there is never a dull moment, especially given the risk profile of the area includes not only rescue but bushfire and house fire.
He is particularly proud of eight new operational members who have completed several training courses throughout the year to make sure they are appropriately skilled up.
The eight, who will soon complete an intensive steep angle rescue training session, have already had a baptism of fire when it comes to bushfire.
“They finished minimum skills on 23 December, got their PPC (protective clothing) on 24 December and turned out to Wye River the next day,” said Dave, who himself left a Christmas dinner uneaten in Stawell to rush back and support his new members.
As the only rescue brigade in District 6, the members of this brigade know it can never be about relying on one individual, or even a few.
“They are a great bunch of guys and girls, both the older experienced ones, who are there every week, then the newer guys working their way up and learning and teaching as they go,” said Dave.
“Just ‘cause I wear the red hat doesn’t always mean what I say goes. Everyone has input into what happens, and we all work bloody well together. You don’t need 100 people, you need good people. When the pager goes, they come.”
Under the Victorian Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP), equipment is part-funded through the brigade and supported through a government grant.
Lukas rescue tool specs:
Read a story here about Apollo Bay rope rescue training in 2013.