Fake blood and explosions aid serious training

THERE was fake blood, fractures, a boat explosion and all the while there was a missing kayaker called Sven waiting to be rescued.

The Albury State Emergency Service unit pulled out all the stops yesterday when it staged a training exercise on the Murray River.

Its 30-odd volunteers were paged yesterday calling them to the unit’s Thurgoona headquarters at 6pm to prepare for a fake rescue.

They were told a kayaker who was paddling on the Murray River had failed to reach his destination at Doctor’s Point and had been missing for three hours.

The group then broke up into search teams with a command point set-up at Mungabareena with two boats scouring the banks on both sides of the river to start with.

More information started trickling in from a police officer over the phone, telling them there had been a possible sighting of a person who had got out or fallen out of a kayak 200 metres upstream from Mungabareena.

The volunteer in charge of the search was Trish Taylor, who began to direct two search parties on foot to conduct line searches on land nearby.

“I was lucky enough to be the holder of the phone when the call came through,” Mrs Taylor said.

Deputy controller of rescue Shane Walters said the biggest concern was night closing in and in real-life situations, their searches were imperative in the moments after a call comes in.

“The sun is going down, he could be stuck in the water and that’s going to get cold, he could be injured, we don’t know,” Mr Walters said.

Then all hell breaks loose as one of the engines of their boats “explodes” (flare guns) and two of their members are injured (and here comes the fake blood).

The members are treated and Sven is found on the other side of the river tired and with a sprained ankle.

Unit controller Scott Richter said exercises like it were imperative to help the team deal with the searches they inevitably have to do every summer; this summer alone they undertook up to four searches.

“It’s a real situation they do face and this exercise wraps-up the last three, four months of training,” Mr Richter said.

The unit is calling for more members from age 16 and up and anyone interested is invited to an information night at its headquarters in Hoffman Road, Thurgoona, next Wednesday at 7pm.

For more information phone (02) 6043 2000.

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