Brigades of CFA: Oscar 1

Member News image Image of Oscar 1 under ground


Active since 1999, CFA’s Oscar 1 Emergency Response Mine Rescue Brigade is a specialised brigade for a unique part of Victoria.


As Oscar 1’s First Lieutenant Karl Shay explains; “Central Victoria, Bendigo is part of what they call the Golden Triangle, which was built on mining.

There are thousands of mines around the area that are unmarked, and tend to fall in. What we're finding is a lot of the mines had to be capped and they were capped with old timbers.

So, of course, they rot out over time, and become a big hole again.”

With a thriving mining industry still active in the area, as well as unmarked mines dotted throughout the landscape, the need for specialist mine rescue skills is evident.

What might not be evident, is the number of disciplines within that skill set needed to perform the role.

“You have underground firefighting and road crash rescue with one of the biggest risks underground being vehicle interaction between large vehicles and potentially light vehicles.

You also have rope rescue, confined space rescue, as well as grain engulfment. We train for all of those.”

The Oscar 1 Brigade train weekly and aim to have a monthly session that replicates real rescue situations.

They also form part of the Central Victorian Mine Rescue Group, which includes emergency response teams from commercial mines in Bendigo, Ballarat and Stawell.

“We all get together and train regularly so that we're all on the same page so that if a big event does eventuate, we've all trained together.

We know each other, we know what everyone's capable of, what equipment we have and how it's all going to work in together.”

Oscar 1 is the only volunteer rescue team in the group, but that means little in a rescue situation.

“Just because we're a volunteer group doesn't mean we don't perform to the required level.

At the end of the day, when there's a job on, it doesn't matter whether you’re getting paid or not. You need to do the job, so you do the job.”


Submitted by CFA News