Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Today the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) has led a multi-agency flood boat exercise, designed to enhance flood rescue and flood support operations across the entire state, with our Armidale team getting a chance to hone their skills. 

Called Who Let the Boats Out, this training exercise is now in its fourth year and is the largest simultaneous boating exercise for NSW SES volunteers and emergency service partners. 

“We have over 750 people out there on the water,” said Carlene York, NSW SES Commissioner. 

“There’s over 200 boats out there today to practice our radio communications and more importantly out flood rescue operations and in-water services that all the agencies do together when the community needs us.” 

“It allows us to test our launching of boats, our rescue of people in the water and our rescue communications and command and control activity back in the incident management rooms.” 

Nine emergency service agencies are involved in the exercise, including; NSW SES, NSW Police, the RFS, Surf Life Saving, Marine Rescue, the VRA, Maritime, Fire and Rescue NSW and the ACT SES. 

They have taken to the waterways at 80 different locations across NSW, including Armidale, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Broken Hill. 

“NSW SES has been extremely busy over the last few years with our floods and storms, but at the moment the weather has been kind to us and we can get out and test those capabilities, and make sure we’re there for the community into the future.” said Ms York. 

“The largest multi-agency flood rescue operation exercise, I would say, that we have had across Australia, and every year it gets bigger and better.” 

Participants get to practice maneuvering, launching and docking vessels, search and rescue, recovering persons overboard, radio communications, fire drills and navigation. 

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin said these training exercises provided essential on-water opportunities for SES personnel, especially in regional areas. 

“Training means we’re better prepared, and this benefits both emergency response personnel and the communities they are helping keep safe.” Ms Saffin said. 

In 2023, NSW SES volunteers responded to 197 flood rescue incidents, some of which required the skills that were practised in today’s exercise.    

Off the water, members of the incident management team will also experience a simulated high-pressure environment, similar to operational conditions where they may need to manage hundreds of flood rescue incidents per hour.