Skills tested as rescue services join forces
RESIDENTS who looked skywards on Saturday morning may have had the opportunity of a glimpse of the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue service in action.
But there was no cause for alarm as the chopper was there for good reason - to conduct a water training exercise in conjunction with Gladstone Volunteer Marine Rescue.
Used as an opportunity for re-certification of helicopter personnel, the operation also allowed both rescue services to get a taste of a real-life rescue situation.
Unit training coordinator at VMR Gladstone Andrea Hindle said the exercise went off without a hitch, and was of significant value to their team.
"We did a training activation EPIRB where they honed in on the EPIRB and came to our position, looked around to see how it was and then put a highline down into our boat and dropped a personnel in," she said.
"They then asked us to go into dead water to stop our boat, then dropped a rubber ring to do a 'man in water' exercise with a hook and they managed to retrieve that.
"It's important because the rescue helicopter is called to many exercises both in open water and in rivers and creeks, and therefore need to keep their qualifications up."
While the training exercise was carried out in open water off the eastern side of Quoin Island, the skills are vital for the helicopter team leading up to summer.
The training operation will come in use when the helicopter service needs to perform swift-water rescues during floods and storms.
The exercise took about 40 minutes and had to be cleared with harbour control as well as authorities in Canberra before it could take place.
Hindle said while the operation was not carried out often, it was ultimately about being prepared for life-threatening situations when they arose and keeping the community safe.
"If that occasion arises then our crew has had that training," she said.
"We've had three or four exercises now over the last few years and if called upon we're able to help them.
"VMR will always promote safety at sea and we advise all people if they're going out in a boat, it only takes a few minutes to radio VMR Gladstone and let us know where they're off to.
"It makes you safe out there and we can come and pick you up if necessary."