A major search and rescue training exercise has taken place off Rottnest Island in Western Australia yesterdayinvolving both state and federal authorities.
Search and rescue crews from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), Western Australia Police Force (WA Police) and Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services (WA DFES) teamed up for the exercise which simulated an aviation incident at sea.
The scenario involved a simulated light plane which had been forced to ditch into the water just before 8am AWST about 7km northwest of Rottnest Island. Four mannequins were dropped into the water along with a life raft and an active distress beacon to replicate survivors signalling for help.
AMSA’s Challenger jet from Perth tracked the beacon and provided top-cover while the four of the mannequins were winched to safety at 0930 by two helicopters; the DFES RAC Rescue helicopter, and the CHC S76 helicopter (operated for RAAF). Two of these mannequins were then transferred by the CHC helicopter onto the Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue vessel R100 and WA Police vessel Cygnet.
The Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue vessel Green Two crew was also tasked with retrieving a mannequin from the water, while the Two Rocks Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel Sea Guardian II crew monitored the exercise from close by.
AMSA Manager Asset Capability Julian Mitchell said the successful exercise off Perth was a great example of the regular training activities that took place between state and federal search and rescue authorities.
“Australia’s search and rescue system embodies the best of collaboration for a greater good, and it has become a model for search and rescue systems globally,” Mr Mitchell said.
WA Police Emergency Management and Maritime Branch Inspector Andrew Henderson said interagency exercises allowed authorities to build working relationships, leverage off each other’s capabilities and experience and ultimately provide a better service to the community.
“Testing ourselves in these challenging situations should provide confidence to the community that together we can deliver a quality service to the public in times of need in if these situations were to occur for real,” Inspector Henderson said.
DFES Assistant Commissioner Operations Capability Gary Gifford said joint training exercises were vital to ensure emergency responders skills were maintained and practiced regularly.
“Activities like this allow us to simulate what would happen during a real life emergency, plan for all possibilities and improve interagency co-operability, with effective communication between agencies being critical to the outcome of the incident,” he said.
“I would also like to acknowledge the commitment of the volunteers who provide vital services keeping their communities safe.”