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The Changing Landscape of Fire Rescue for Perth

In the Australian bush, fires are as much a part of the ecology as the vegetation and wildlife. In the world’s hottest and driest continent, much of the land must be occasionally revived with nutrients produced by bushfires. Nature here is so well adapted that numerous seeds and plants will not germinate until affected by such heat. Prior to European colonisation, fire was a constant tool in the agricultural efforts of aboriginals. It was used to preserve productive farmland, hunt prey, and to revive the nutrient base of soil. Bushfires were common, and were even sighted by Captain Cook in his initial contact with the continent in 1770. However, all this changed upon colonisation. Considerable efforts have been put towards fire suppression – a practice allowing very little cool burning to take place in the wet season. This meant that the base of fuel in fire prone forest slowly built up over time, and that when a bushfire did occur, locals were greeted with a beast of unprecedented strength and ferocity. This has changed in recent years. But among the elite, there is a general consensus that the fire season is lasting longer, and has become more severe, over the decade. Fire management and fire rescue authorities, in Perth and throughout the country, have been obliged to move their fire management efforts from high season, to year-round efforts, aimed at vigilance, planning, and fuel removal. It has meant an evolution in fire safety and fire rescue techniques in Perth. As […]

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The Legacy of the Berlin Airlift for Perth and the World

As Allied and Russian forces began to turn the tide of World War II in 1944, they began to undertake a march towards Hitler’s headquarters in Berlin. But the Russians in the east had the distinct advantage of a younger, less seasoned German army corps to cope with, one that was still reeling from the unequivocal failure of Operation Barberossa in the autumn. This meant that when the war eventually ended, it was the Russians who reached Berlin first. This became important when post-way Germany was divided up in 1946, as the temporary occupation zones were roughly laid out by virtue of the force that had secured it. By then, large numbers of American forces had been stationed in Berlin. However, they, along with 2.8 million civilians, were blocked access to western goods in 1948. Joseph Stalin intended on waiting out the occupying British and American forces to bring all of Germany under Soviet rule, and opposed the establishment of a separate German currency by the occupying Americans. In order to prevent the city from falling short of vital supplies, a massive airlift operation was organised, involving seven different air forces. Upwards of 200 000 missions were flown over the course of 1948 and 1949, in a massive and concerted effort to stymie the Soviet blackmail. The Berlin airlift set the standard for providing for people who have been cut off from land-based help. It has been utilised, on different scales, to feed and provide for people cut off by […]

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Profiles of a Rescue Pt. I: Maritime Search and Rescue in the Tasman

The maritime search and rescue record of Perth, and all of Australia, is a proud one. The waters that surround our country are varied, exhibit a wide range of different weather patterns, and can occasionally be treacherous. It is no wonder that many of our rescue operations can require a concerted, cooperative effort to achieve their goals. The 2008 rescue of the Silhouette II, a catamaran and pleasure craft on a passage to New Zealand, stands as a case study of a classic coordinated effort to secure the rescue of sailors at sea. After it experienced difficulties, including a hull breach, 150 miles to the east of Byron Bay, the yacht was able to telephone to a shoreside family member. He then alerted rescue authorities, who began to seek avenues to rescue the now liferaft-bound crew. As in many offshore rescue situations, redundancies are often vital. A nearby merchant ship, M/V Alltrans, was diverted to the area to assist, while visual contact was made by an RCC Australia Dornier aircraft dispatched out of Cairns. Two Sydney Water Police boats were dispatched to the scene, while an Air Force Orion headed out from Gladstone. The Alltrans was first to arrive on scene, and put itself abreast of the liferaft, now cast off from the submerged hull of the yacht. However, due to the rough seas, the danger posed by the propellers of the ship, and the lack of manoeuvrability of the Alltrans, the rescue was initially aborted. It took three more […]

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SAR Rescue Services in Perth: Methods

The Perth environment is one that lends itself to a particular brand of search and rescue. As they have been throughout the world, search and rescue methods here have been customised to its landscape. Different geography and climes dictate different methodologies for seeking out lost parties. In the landscape here, due to the remarkable heat, speed is very often an important element in returning people safely. On the hottest days, dehydration can set in very quickly, and ensuring adequate hydration can be difficult even for the best-prepared party out in the bush. As rescuers, we need to be able to cover large swathes of land, basing our search patterns on the last known whereabouts of the missing party. The bushland in western Australia is so vast that any hints about potential directions of travel or habit can be useful, so we rely heavily on notes from other involved parties, and schools of thought on the behaviour exhibited by lost parties. Large distances necessitate a large-scale approach to search and rescue. Our dependence on fixed-wing aircraft for this service dates back to the early days of the Flying Doctors, and has evolved in to reliance on both airplanes and helicopters – who are typically used for recovery of the target, owing to their ability to hover stationary. Preparation is key here, and at Parabellum International, our team is well aware of this. We know that an ill-prepared team can quickly become victims themselves, and being on top of your equipment and […]

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The Tough Task of Urban Search and Rescue in Perth

Urban Search and Rescue in Perth is primarily concerned with searching for victims of housing collapses. These can be the result of a number of different causes: some of the most common are landslides and avalanches, flooding, fires, and earthquakes. It is among the most specialised areas of search and rescue.

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Summer Emergency Response for Perth

As the heat and the dry of the summer begins to take hold in Western Australia, the pace of life broadly begins to slow down. It is difficult to find the energy to rush when the mercury climbs above 40, and the search for a cool spot often leads us indoors.

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Australia’s Rich History of Airlift Evacuations offer lessons for Perth

The remarkable size of the Australian continent, coupled with the lack of transport options, bred some of the world’s first, and finest, bush pilots. The only method of reaching the far-flung properties and farms in a reasonable amount of time, in the case of injury or disaster, was to come by air. Some of the tales from these pioneering airmen defy belief.

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