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HeliTorque :: View topic - SAR award recognises Queensland flood rescuers
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HeliTorque Forum Index » EMS, SAR & Law Enforcement

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SAR award recognises Queensland flood rescuers
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:20 am    Post subject: SAR award recognises Queensland flood rescuers Reply with quote

SAR award recognises Queensland flood rescuers
April 18, 2011

Queensland helicopter crews who plucked survivors from the roofs of their homes following the worst floods in Australian history have been recognised for their efforts.

January 2011 saw the Australian state of Queensland battered by tropical storms and many towns were inundated by rainfall. Some areas received their annual average rainfall in just 36 hours, turning a landscape parched by almost a decade of drought into lakes of fast moving flood waters.

On January 10 and 11 crews from Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) flying AgustaWestland AW139s were called to the small town of Grantham, which was suffering from flash flooding. Flights 'Rescue 500' and 'Rescue 510' were scrambled from their bases at Cairns and Brisbane to find the town under fast moving waters that had become infested with snakes and crocodiles.

Flying in low-lying cloud and torrential rain, the EMQ crews navigated their way to the community – maps proving useless as the flood had obliterated local landmarks. Over the two days the crews rescued 43 people, flying them to a makeshift medical facility set up on one of the few remaining patches of dry land.

Because of their skilful flying, ingenuity and bravery, the aircrews were jointly awarded the SAR 2011 award. It was collected on the crews’ behalf by Acting Chief Aircrew officer Greg Huppatz. The award was presented by Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Peter Wood and conference chairman John Astbury during the VIP dinner at the SAR 2011 event held in Bournemouth.

The award citation includes extracts from mission reports produced by the crews.

One written by Capt Peter Row describes the scene at Grantham: 'On arrival at Grantham, we were shocked at the scene unfolding before us. There was water all over the ground as far as the eye could see.

'This water was brown and full of items and travelling at great rate of knots, in amongst all this were floating debris like water tanks, shipping containers, pieces of buildings, cars and trucks, an aeroplane and boats that were being smashed by the raging torrent.'

Despite EMQ's efforts, 22 people lost their lives in the flooding at Grantham, and three people are still listed as missing.

Speaking to Shephard, Huppatz said receiving the award on EMQ's behalf was very humbling. 'We are very proud and humbled to be receiving this award and to know we are held in such high esteem by the community,' Huppatz said.

'Recognition is not what drives the SAR industry, but it is highly valued.’

Huppatz said much of Queensland is now recovering from the floods, but there was still a sense of shock there. 'There are some areas that are more or less back to normal. There are some where the return to normality might take months or even years, but there are also some that may never recover.'

'The tenacity, determination and absolute stamina shown by the crews of Rescue 500 and 510 together with their obvious courage make them clear winners of this year's SAR award,' Astbury said.

The 2011 SAR award covers late 2010 and the first part of 2011. The review panel considers three categories of activity, including SAR rescue, SAR technical innovation, and SAR individual contribution.


Tony Osborne, Bournemouth
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