‘High threat’ as summer comes

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Rockingham and Kwinana SES members Wayne Steegstra, Peter Spilton, Daniel Bareli and Bradeon Steyl.
Camera IconRockingham and Kwinana SES members Wayne Steegstra, Peter Spilton, Daniel Bareli and Bradeon Steyl. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Picture: Jack Dietsch

Volunteer emergency and rescue services across the Rockingham area are bracing for a predicted “high-threat” season this summer.

The potential impact of COVID-19 on emergencies, looking after the wellness and mental health for first responders and the upcoming bushfire season were in focus when volunteer emergency services leaders met recently.

Emergency services believe with WA’s hard borders in place, there will be a surge of intrastate travel, resulting in a higher number of people needing help.

Marine Rescue Rockingham public affairs officer Brian Delamont said the group had made several changes to the way it operated to help manage this year’s predicted increase during peak season, while maintaining COVID-19 safety procedures.

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“Crew numbers have been restricted to maintain social-distancing rules on the rescue vessels, but this has not impacted rescue capability or training,” he said.

“The recent acquisition of the larger Orion vessel provides longer range for offshore rescues and the ability to continue search and rescues in rough seas.

“Marine Rescue Rockingham has sufficient capacity to meet current and seasonal boat traffic. Rockingham has a second vessel and additional crews available at short notice and for large-scale events we would co-ordinate resources with the Water Police and other Marine Rescue Units, such as Cockburn.”

Over the past year, Mr Delamont said Marine Rescue Rockingham crews and radio operators had volunteered 1100 hours, responded to 168 incidents, rescued 280 people and ensured the safe return of vessels.

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said the 26,000 emergency services volunteers across WA made a vital contribution.

“But Western Australians must take their own personal responsibility to prepare themselves as well,” he said.

“We are coming into a wonderful time of year, but please do not be complacent. Whether it's on the water, out hiking or travelling through the bush, be prepared and determine now what you would do in an emergency or better yet how you could avoid one.”

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