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    Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
    The Honourable Mark Ryan

    Swiftwater rescuers motor ahead in first for Australia

    Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
    The Honourable Mark Ryan

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Swiftwater rescuers motor ahead in first for Australia

    Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) will soon have greater capability to pluck people safely from dangerous swiftwater environments in an Australian-first for emergency responders.

    Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said senior swiftwater rescue instructors were undergoing internationally-recognised training this week in Far North Queensland in the use of inflatable motorised craft.

    He said specialist swiftwater rescue firefighters currently used paddled or rope-tethered inflatable boats to reach people in dangerous fast-moving water and that the inclusion of motorised craft would bolster rescue efforts.

    “This training is a first of its kind not only in Queensland, but in Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

    “It will give QFES the ability to use motorised craft to perform swiftwater rescues, allowing firefighters to be much more agile, reach people faster and get to areas previously inaccessible using paddle power.

    “With more than 160 swiftwater rescue jobs completed by emergency services during the recent floods associated with Cyclone Debbie, this new capability is crucial to ensuring our emergency responders are well equipped with the best training and resources.

    “The Palaszczuk Government said we would invest in not only more frontline officers but also in the resources needed to keep Queenslanders safe and this new world-leading training is just one example of where we are delivering on this commitment.

    Minister Ryan said trainers from the United States have flown in to put 11 Fire and Rescue swiftwater rescue instructors through an intensive six-day course, and the skills and experience they learn from this will be spread to other swiftwater rescuers in QFES.

    “This nation-leading approach will complement the organisation’s existing State Emergency Service (SES) floodboat rescue capability and it demonstrates the progressive and innovative commitment the organisation has to protecting the community,” he said.

    “The Queensland Government is investing almost $500,000 in these life-saving craft, so it means from the NSW border to the tip of Cape York and out west, swiftwater rescue teams will have greater capacity to respond when called upon.”

    Minister Ryan said the training coincided with QFES’ plan to introduce 17 motorised swiftwater rescue craft statewide over the next year.

    QFES Acting Commissioner Mark Roche said the introduction of motorised craft would enhance the ability of firefighters to assist the community during severe weather and flood events.

    “Queensland’s firefighters have performed more than 200 swiftwater rescues throughout the state in the past two years, often under dangerous conditions,” he said.

    “These new craft reduce the need for rescuers to paddle long distances to reach people and help in situations where fast-flowing flood water hampers rescue operations.

    “Rescuers will be able to motor upstream and downstream in rapidly moving waters, something they could not do with paddles alone.”

    “The motorised craft will also provide another means of rescue where helicopters had previously been the last option.”

    Mr Roche said the craft were fitted with outboard motors and could be inflated in two minutes, allowing rescuers to act fast when the need arose.

    He said the instructors undergoing training this week would, once certified, commence training other swiftwater rescuers across the state to provide the increased capability to all regions.

    “I can’t overstate the importance to Queensland of the training going on at the moment to introduce motorised swiftwater rescue craft and trained operators to the ranks of QFES,” Mr Roche said.

    “Time is of the essence when it comes to swiftwater rescues, and I am confident this new equipment and training will give our firefighters the skills and tools they require to continue helping those in need.”



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