Photo: Captain David Sewell, Crew Chief Steve Bullen, CFA Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rick Owen, Firefighter Dom Trifilo and SES Kinglake Controller Sean Kay.
CFA, VICSES and Shepparton Search and Rescue have adapted to the flood conditions across parts of Victoria by assembling a helicopter-based road crash rescue team to respond to incidents in isolated communities.
An interim helicopter-based road crash rescue arrangement will commence today, 20 October, and will be ready to respond from Mangalore airfield throughout the duration of the flood event.
These joint rescue services will enhance emergency service response and complement ground crews but will also be a vital service should crews need to respond to an incident in an isolated location with limited access for ground crews.
VICSES Chief Officer Operations Tim Wiebusch said the service is drawing upon local SES and CFA members with road crash rescue skills and qualifications.
“A multi-agency team of five members will rotate through shifts and respond to locations across the state where roads may have been cut off, and communities isolated,” he said.
“These members are highly skilled and trained to the same level, and they will be ready to respond quickly to the flood-affected communities that need their services for as long as these conditions last.”
“Crews will be equipped with the most effective, agile and lightweight battery-operated rescue equipment to allow for increased capability,” he said.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said this joint arrangement is another example of Victoria’s volunteer emergency service organisations working together as one and putting community at the centre of everything they do.
“There are many communities across Victoria that are difficult to access on the ground right now, and the air-based road crash rescue team has the equipment required to fly over water and attend incidents on their own or provide support to our ground crews when necessary.
“In many ways this is a ground-breaking effort by our crews to adapt in an emergency and provide continued service to our communities.”
The interim helicopter-based road crash rescue arrangement was first assembled in response to the 2019/20 bushfires, where many Victorian communities were isolated due to fire.