Life Saving Clubs from around the state joined Water Police, SES, CFA and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service to practise search and rescue scenarios together.
Woodside Beach Surf Life Saving Club hosted the training weekend in September to create opportunities for inter-agency collaboration, as well as providing important training in time for the upcoming season.
“It’s always great to work with the other agencies, as well as to interact with clubs we don’t regularly visit,” says LSV Lifesaving Support Officer Liam O’Callaghan, who attended the training with eight fellow members of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter (WLRH) crew.
The training scenarios were practised in both the local mountain environment, as well as on the coast, and club members came from Woodside SLSC, Carrum SLSC, Black Rock LSC, Seaspray SLSC and Surf Life Saving Lakes Entrance.
“It’s always great being able to take people into a new, but controlled, environment, where they can apply their skills and knowledge to fresh scenarios and see what does and doesn’t work,” says Liam. “Conditions weren’t too bad, with wind coming across the shore, and we risk assessed the situation to find out what would work best specific to the settings.”
Some of the training exercises involved search and rescue training with the WLRH homer, which is always carried on board the helicopter, homing in and out of undulating terrain searching for beacons (EPIRB), which are similar to those carried by someone out in the bush or on a boat.
“There was also the chance to train with Water Police in different scenarios and working in with lifesavers on the beach, in the WLRH and with the other agencies in order to deliver good outcomes for the patients involved,” says Liam.
Woodside SLSC’s Graeme Hurrell has experienced a dozen of these training sessions over as many years and has been a member of the club for 40 years. He says the best part is seeing the younger members grow with the expansion of their knowledge, and to see them network with other clubs and agencies facing similar challenges.
“It breaks down barriers and it’s great to see young lifesavers working alongside the police as their peers,” says Graeme. “It’s also good for an old man’s heart to see the different clubs doing the same things with patient care and knowing that I’ve helped train someone else to save a life is a good feeling.”
Much of the equipment and gear used in the training was provided thanks to ESVS and VESEP state government grants.