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Water winch training, all in a day’s work for RACQ CareFlight Rescue and Water Police

Bundaberg’s RACQ CareFlight Rescue crew and Hervey Bay Water Police are honing their search, rescue and water winching skills off the Burrum Coast, to ensure they’re ready for any emergency.

“We could find ourselves working together on anything from assisting a recreational boat crew through to search and rescue operations off shore or in flood waters,” RACQ CareFlight Senior Base Lead Chris Jowsey said.

The teams came together two nautical miles off the coast at Woodgate and ran through five emergency scenarios.

They included a search for a vessel in distress, the winch transfer of a RACQ CareFlight crew member and the recovery of a ‘survivor’ from the water.

“Most rescues are undertaken in very poor conditions,” Hervey Bay Water Police Officer in Charge Sergeant Paul Bacon said.

“It’s important to put procedure into practice so everyone is prepared.

“Having our vessel the ‘S W Gill’ work as both a rescue boat and a stricken vessel helps our crew see what’s needed, from both sides of the operation.”

The crews train every six months, but it’s rarely the same.

“Bundaberg has recently been upgraded to a Tier Two Australian Maritime Safety base which requires further training on the deployment of AMSA life rafts,” CareFlight’s Chris Jowsey said.

“The Bundaberg floods a couple of years ago highlight the need for us to be ready for any eventuality.

“This training, and its analysis, is a vital part of the process.”

It’s a view shared by Sergeant Bacon, who is also the Search and Rescue Co-ordinator for the Wide Bay and Burnett District, and was in that position during the Bundaberg floods.

“Some of our crew haven’t been involved in water winch operations before,” Sergeant Bacon said.

“This training is invaluable in identifying and working through, first hand, any potential hazards and dangers the missions present.

“It’s not a question of if, but when we will put this training into practice.”