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Mt Buller 000 ready
A new addressing system on Mt Buller is equipping emergency 000 callers to better explain their location and make it easier for emergency services to identify their location.
CFA Operations Officer Paul Horton, who is stationed at Mt Buller during the winter months, said that the Mt Buller Urban Addressing Project – led by ESTA with strong support from CFA – would mean faster response times in an environment where time was critical.
“The idea is to help the caller – especially if they are a visitor to the area – be more specific about where they are so that stress fear and panic are minimised and the lead agency can better direct their resources,” he said.
Speaking on a cold morning at the height of the snow season, Paul reflected on the heightened risk factor brought about by the climate.
“The temperature here at the moment is minus 1, and given it’s 11.30 in the morning people are dressed accordingly,” he said.
“But transfer these conditions to overnight, if there’s an accident or people have to suddenly evacuate their warm lodges dressed in indoor clothes, then the prospect of survival outside are slim.
Mount Buller attracts some 400,000 visitors annually, has the largest lift capacity in Victoria, and a capacity of 7500 beds. Under the ESTA project, hundreds of buildings, including each chalet, lodge and commercial enterprise, have been allocated a number and road name.
In the past, emergency services have had to rely heavily on the local knowledge of responding crews to supplement information received from callers.
Paul said that previous attempts to impose a consistent addressing system at Mt Buller had not succeeded.
“We were all acutely aware of the need for this project to be built with a strong sense of community ownership, along with input and expertise from the emergency services,” he said.
“We needed a system that was easy for everyone to use whether they were a resident, visitor or employee. It needed to be cost effective and easy for businesses to explain to their customers.”
“The fact that this project has succeeded where others failed is due to the effort we put in to engage local businesses and the genuine commitment of local agencies to work together.
Along with CFA, the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI), Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police and the Office of Geographic Names all contributed. To make sure the data was reliable, various technologies were brought together including contemporary spatial mapping systems, integraph CAD, mobile GPS technology and aerial photography.
Paul said that wherever tourists gather in numbers and a need for 000 arises, similar models could be considered.
The Mt Buller model, which was developed from the ground up and went live in early June this year, will be used as a best practice example for the States 5 Ski resorts as well as on French Island.
In December 2013, CFA commenced similar projects at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham in conjunction with the Alpine Shire.
CFA has also distributed evacuation plan proformas (an initiative of Operations Officer Brett Boatman at Mt Hotham) have been distributed to all Lodge Committees by CFA through a partnership with Resort Management at Mt Buller.