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Airlifts and Perth: The Legacy of the Fastnet Race

The vaunted Sea King helicopter has been a staple for rescue services throughout the world in its long career, and has played a big role in airlifts for Perth and throughout Western Australia, since its inception in to the Royal Australian Navy in the mid-1970s. These Sikorsky stalwarts have proven their mettle time and again, operating in conditions that give fits to other aircraft. This includes their involvement in one of the most notorious peacetime rescue operations of all time, over thirty years ago, in the Irish Sea. The Fastnet Race is held biennially, and is among the oldest bluewater sailing races in existence. It runs from the Isle of Wight, across the Irish Sea and around Fastnet Rock, before returning to Plymouth. The race has historically been one of the toughest ocean races in the world, as the Irish Sea can provide conditions that are difficult for many yachts. However, in the 1970s, a succession of races featuring gentle weather conditions had lulled the fleet in to a false sense of security. This was rudely contradicted by the conditions that confronted the 300+ boat fleet in 1979. Winds reaching up to Force 10, the result of an intense low, produced a sharp sea state that brutalised the fleet. Twenty-five boats were sunk, and with a fleet of such a size, the combined efforts of both the British and the Irish rescue services were required to winch many of the yachtsmen to safety. The enormity of the rescue effort was […]

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Disaster Management in Perth WA and the Tsunami Threat

It is among the most iconic footage of a disaster that has ever been caught on camera. On Boxing Day of 2004, a megathrust earthquake to the west of Sumatra created a colossal tsunami, spreading out in all directions, and causing destruction and chaos to shorelines as far away as east Africa. The worst damage occurred closest to the epicentre in Aceh province. The city of Banda Aceh was severely impacted, constituting the bulk of the casualties, but it was the west-facing communities in Sumatra where the damage was most extreme. Here, eyewitnesses reported a wave that was as high as 35 metres – the tallest tsunami of modern times. These waves are created when massive quantities of seawater are displaced through undersea seismic events. Given the colossal stretch of ocean that adjoins Perth and all of WA, disaster management has been obliged to look in to potential methods of remediating the risks of such an event here. It isn’t so much a question of ‘if’ – Western Australia experiences a tsunami event roughly every ten years. Many of these are relatively minimal, recorded only by tide gauges. But some have been considerably more noticeable. Faults off of Java, in Indonesia, have caused waves to sweep inland for hundreds of metres, typically off the sparsely-inhabited northern coast of the state. And larger events, including the 2004 tsunami, have caused erosion and damage to areas of the coast as far south as Albany. The low elevation of the land here makes […]

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Facts You Need to Know About Disaster Management

While we may have little or no control over the occurrence of disasters, one can definitely be prepared and take necessary steps to contain the damage that they can cause. Here are some facts about Disaster Management that each one of us should be aware of: Cost of Disasters In 2015, natural disasters cost Australia more than $9 billion The actual cost of natural disasters across Australia is said to have exceeded estimated costs by at least 50% The total cost of natural disasters has been estimated to rise to an average of $33 billion per year by 2050 Disasters Identified Natural Disasters Bushfire Floods Earthquakes Landslides Epidemics Storms, Cyclones, and Tornadoes Unnatural Disasters Major accidents Structural collapse, fire Terrorist attacks Marine oil spills Hazmat incidents While there are Emergency Management Committees set up at State, District and Local levels, it is highly recommended for every organization to have a Disaster Management Strategy of it’s own. The idea of Disaster Management or Emergency Management is to follow a 4 step process Plan Planning is all about coming up with the most viable methods of coping with all the possible issues that could arise in a given environment. Prepare Preparation focuses on charting out applicable emergency management measures, gauging their functionality, and finding the best method of remediation. Respond Training people to effectively carry out the necessary disaster management plans is extremely important, so as to avoid panic and save as many lives, and as much property, as possible. Recover Here […]

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High-level Search and Rescue Services for Perth

Among the rough waters and sheer coastal cliffs of the Australian coastline, search and rescue services, from Perth to Byron Bay, are often obliged to rescue stranded people off of seaside cliff. This specialised form of rescue demands a number of particular skills, which set these rescues apart from others. The history of such rescues has a proud tradition in Australian history. When the Dunbar struck the rocks of the Gap in Sydney, south of the harbour entrance, it was presumed that not one soul was spared as the ship broke up along the coastline. However, Sydney was, at that time, home to a young jeweller’s apprentive, who at 17, quickly made a name for himself. Antonia Wollier, a recent arrival for Iceland and an experienced climber, climbed down the cliff to locate the sole survivor James Johnson, and delivering a rope to pull him to safety. In many cases, rescues such as this one are the norm for search and rescue services in Perth. The sheer cliffs which mark the shoreline here often stymie efforts of shipwrecked individuals to climb up, requiring some specialised help. Along with sailors, sports climbers and hikers have often needed rescuing, particularly in the high country of Victoria and New South Wales. Specific training and rescue methods are called up for these circumstances. Ropes must be expertly fixed, and enclosed stretchers are used to ensure the bumpy ride up the cliff face won’t dislodge any passengers. Aircraft must be made aware of the particulars […]

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A Beach Identity System | Search and Rescue Company in Perth

The coast of Western Australia evolved with an eye to the water. It was the original form of transport to this isolated stretch of land, well before the railway from the east coast reached across the Nullarbor. The waters here are warm and rich with marine life, a reality that attracts both aquatic hunters and human revellers to its shorelines. This has led to Western Australia leading the country in per-capita shark attacks. Search and rescue companies here in Perth have long had to fight this particular battle. Cases such as these require fast response and a thorough, experienced crew both in the water and in the air. The injuries that are suffered at the teeth of these beasts require nothing less than the quickest help possible, or risk losing the victim. However, the system can often struggle to identify the remote beaches where such attacks may occur. Problems with identifying the beach are often exacerbated by the state of mind of the caller, who is often somewhat shaken by their experience, and the sheer number of beaches along this huge stretch of coastline. However, this could be set to change. The brother of Ben Gerring, who was killed by a shark last year, has been lobbying hard for a comprehensive, number-driven catalogue of beaches in Western Australia. Without going through the trouble of actually naming all of the beaches, this method would simply put a number code to the hundreds of unnamed, secluded beaches that line the coast. In […]

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Cleaning up oil spills in Perth: The Importance of Spill Kits

In many industrial processes, the question of whether an oil spill occurs in your workplace is not an ‘if’ – it is a when. Large and small oil spills occur every day around Perth, a reality of working with the substance, and the basics of human fallibility. Regardless of large or small scale, these spills must be dealt with as soon as possible. Oil, grease, and fuel can easily be absorbed in to the soil nearby, or be washed in to watersheds. They can impact upon local flora and fauna. And, they are a threat to the safety of your workforce. Many slips and falls each year are attributed to spills. A spill kit is key to cleaning up oil spills at your Perth home or workplace. These small, inexpensive kits contain an absorbent element that targets the substance on the ground, and functions hugely better than the old stand-bys – kitty litter and sand. They are easily disposed of, and many firms offer your firm a package whereby they are constantly updated as they lose their effectiveness. They are easy to employ and highly visible, so they can be employed by whomever is nearest. Although spill kits can target a specific oil or fuel directly, there is typically an all-rounder that is offered by many firms, which functions across a wide variety of common spills. Other specifics include mercury, coolant liquid, agricultural chemicals, and organic fluids – often utilised at hospitals. These kits are an essential element of protecting […]

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Roadside Surgery: A Medical Emergency in Perth

Medical emergencies near Perth aren’t something that can be relied upon to happen on a predictable time frame. They can occur at any moment. This moment occurred for Perth doctor recently, Dr. Edward Yeboah, when he came upon a crash in an area outside of town. Having taken a wrong turn down a road while headed to his destination, the doctor was seeking a spot to turn himself around. Instead, he came across an accident that had just occurred, where two trucks had recently collided head-on. It was a bad accident, and the driver of one of the trucks was stuck inside his cab. Making an emergency call, Dr. Yeboah waited on the scene until fire crews were able to free the passenger. This passenger, Simon Treloar, was suffering from bad injuries, including a collapsed lung. Upon being extricated from the cab, paramedics and Dr. Yebaoh were obliged to perform roadside surgery upon his chest, to relief the pressure on his heart being caused by a the compression of the accident. This had all been done without an anaesthetic: in true Aussie fashion, when asked if it was all right to go ahead with the incision in his chest without any painkillers, Treloar responded “Yeah, just go for it mate.” Treloar, after a lengthy stay in the intensive care unit in Perth, has managed to recover, and lately was spotted offering his impromptu medical team his thanks. For his staff, medical emergencies in Perth are their craft, and they were […]

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Disaster Management for WA: The Perils of the Rescuer

It is a known element of rescue services: the attempt to save a stricken party can be fraught with risk. That is the reality of rescue work: the same conditions that have imperilled people are more than likely still present. Every rescuer is aware of this, and must come to terms with it. Among rescue attempts among the Australian wilderness, there have been numerous rescuers that have had to be rescued themselves. They are benefited by foresight and a knowledge of present conditions, but these conditions can change, and not everyone eager to help is as fit as they once were. This means that modern tracking devices and location beacons are absolutely vital, to ensure that everyone is accounted for at the end of a day. Last week, a gentleman in WA’s northern reaches unwittingly put in to motion a chain of events that would endanger the lives of some of his would-be rescuers. When his emergency locator was activated, it sent his coordinates to a friend, who notified the police. However, the friend also notified a local station, whose owner went up in their private plane to aid in the search. However, they encountered electrical difficulties when on their return voyage, and wound up forcing a landing in the bush. They walked away from it safely, but their plane did not. The pair activated their GPS locator beacon, and they were lucky enough to be rescued shortly after – by yet another rescue party. This pattern is one that […]

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Emergency Response for Western Australia

In the aftermath of the devastation of Yarloop last January, those involved in emergency response in WA were left shaking their heads amid public backlash. Warnings to residents of the historic town were said to be simply too late for any protective measure to be put in to place, which served as a contributing factor for much of the town being levelled, and two lives being lost. As they sifted through the ashes, the reports came in that the system of fire safety awareness had broken down during this fast-moving and dangerous wildfire. Broadly, the reporting service had not made people aware of the incipient danger burning nearby, until it was well too late for protective measures to be taken. In fairness, emergency response personnel tasked with coping with wildfires in WA face with an extremely difficult line of work. They must track the ever-changing course of a wildfire, taking in to account amounts of fuel, wind changes that will drive the fire, and the potentially endangered townships and people in the way. There are many variables that must be calmly weighed up, under circumstances of considerable duress. However, a similar theme emerged as from the report in to the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria in 2009: the importance of fuel reduction, across wide swathes of southwest Western Australia, in both public and privately-owned land. Efforts at fire dampening over the years had led to a large amount of brush and tree refuse in many areas, and these breed ever-larger […]

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Airlift Perth and the Twin Otter: The Standard for Toughness

If you’re an aviation buff, or even if you have been watching the news, you may have noticed one of the more impressive aircraft rescues of recent times unfold this past week in the world’s southernmost continent. A pilot team flew to the Scott Antarctic base, to airlift out a pair of scientists who had taken ill over the course of the past month. Flying in the extreme cold and darkness of the endless night in the southern winter, such flights are typically not undertaken unless an emergency beckons. The pair of aircraft chosen to perform this mission are extreme weather specialists, but they are not new to the scene. They were a pair of Twin Otters, a Canadian De Havilland design that dates back nearly fifty years. First flown in 1965, they proved themselves so adaptable to tough conditions and assignments that they were adopted all over the world. Airlifts for Perth, and throughout Western Australia, are often dependent upon landing and taking from airstrips that are little longer than a cricket oval. They require powerful STOL aircraft (short takeoff and landing) that can fly in all weather conditions, and the Twin Otter suited these goals perfectly. A fleet of several dozen Twin Otters, under a variety of operators, made use of this aircraft for a wide variety of purposes, including airlift rescue and remote access, in WA and throughout the outback. They are still in production today, although not by de Havilland – their production line was restarted […]

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