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Steep angle training speeds up response
‘Working as one’ is a guiding principle for emergency services organisations in Victoria, and the best way to achieve this is to share skills, knowledge and resources across the state.
By Graham Gales
A recent example of this took place in Bright where a steep angle rescue course for CFA and SES was run over two weekends. The course was funded by VICSES’s North East Regional Office.
Twelve participants from the SES Bright Unit and Mount Beauty Fire Brigade took part, guided by SES instructors Andrew Feagan and Bill Rouse and CFA instructors Mark Sharrock and Adrian Gutsche.
Over the first weekend, participants learned the theory of steep angle rescue and were introduced to the specialist equipment needed for this type of rescue. They then spent a day outdoors practising the technical details – knots, anchors, calls, and procedures.
The second weekend took them out into the hills around Bright to practise their new skills in more realistic situations. This included scenarios where they had to transport casualties both up and down slopes.
“I’ve been really impressed by the commitment of this group to their learning,” said instructor Andrew Feagan. “They arranged several practice nights in the fortnight between the weekends, both in their own facilities and together again at Bright.”
“This is a fantastic program,” said Inspector Paul Hargreaves, the Victoria Police Regional Emergency Management Inspector and Response Coordinator for Hume Region. “VicPol is developing a database of resources that can be called upon in emergencies, particularly in the alps over winter. To have a group such as this, trained and available with equipment on hand, will provide great support for us if anything occurs.”
Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll of Bright Police can see that this training will reduce response times to incidents.
“When there’s a call for an abseiler rescue, we have to wait for the Search & Rescue [SAR] squad to send a team, which can take up to four hours,” he said. “Having these blokes locally with the cache of equipment means we can start a rescue instantly rather than waiting for SAR.”
Mount Beauty Fire Brigade member Russell Bowring got a lot out of this realistic training.
“It was very satisfying having been able to train alongside another agency learning the same skills and using the same equipment,” he said. “The instructors from both agencies shared knowledge and scenarios based on their own experiences, making our training more realistic.”
Barrett Higman of Bright SES believed there would be a flow-on effect to other units and brigades in the different valleys. “What we have achieved in this course will provide benefits for this area for many years,” he said.
After the training course finished, SES placed a cache of high angle operator rescue equipment at Bright SES to pair with the steep angle cache at Mount Beauty Fire Station, so that they can provide integrated teams to steep angle rescue incidents.