Weekend on Wheels

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The Taree Volunteer Rescue Association (Taree Rescue Squad) has been serving the Manning District since 1975 and was formed in response to Taree North Rotary, who recognised a real need to establish an independent and self-managed volunteer emergency rescue organisation in the area.


To ensure it can continue its important work in emergency rescues, the organisation holds fundraising activities to generate donations from businesses, individuals, services, schools and clubs … On May 27, the rescue squad is presenting Weekend on Wheels, to help spread awareness about the organisation and in the process raise money to purchase vital equipment used in emergency situations. Karen Farrell spoke to John Chick, Secretary and Public Relations Officer for Taree Rescue Squad regarding the big day.

Way back in 1975, Rotarians recognised there was a need for a squad to assist in times of emergency … how did it all start?

The idea to form an Emergency Rescue Unit for the Manning Area took place in late 1975, with a public meeting in Taree. The guest speaker was the late Ray Tyson, who at the time was Officer in Charge of the Police Rescue Squad and Constable Bill Henning, of the Taree Highway Police Patrol. Nominations were called to form the rescue squad and 15 people were accepted with the squad, with it being called the Manning District Volunteer Rescue Organisation.

So often in the media we hear of yet another rescue … the volunteers are highly trained to perform all manner of rescues, such as removing people from a wrecked motor vehicle, taking part in dangerous mountain rescues or assisting in times of natural disasters. What sort of training is provided to Taree Rescue Squad volunteers? 

We provide free training to our volunteers in all aspects of emergency rescue, which includes road rescue, land search, cliff rescue and inland waterways. The volunteer does need to have a First Aid Certificate, or we can arrange for the volunteer to obtain one at his or her own expense. Depending on the individual’s dedication to improve their knowledge and expertise, there are many courses which they can undertake.

How long does it take a volunteer to become an accredited rescue operator?

Most volunteers take approximately six months to be accredited, and then they will receive a State Rescue Board Number that stays with them for life. This is like any other certificate that people receive and need to keep updated to keep their skills current.

The rescue squad needs to be at-the-ready to cope in any type of emergency and is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. How does the organisation prepare itself around-the-clock for emergency situations including road accidents, storm assistance, missing children and distressed animals?

Taree VRA Rescue Squad has 12 accredited members. The squad captain is aware of who is available at any one time … when an incident occurs, the squad is notified by pager by VKG Newcastle Police stating the time, position and type of incident to attend. With major incidents, we then call on other specialist services for assistance.

How does the organisation work with other emergency services?

The squad works with all other emergency services – for example: NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, Rural Fire Brigade, NSW Fire Brigade, SES, WESTPAC Helicopter Service and even on occasions, The Surf Life Saving Association. The Police Service requires our services for lighting at crime scenes or any other job they need lighting for.

We have simulated exercises with all the other emergency services, so we’re able to all synch in with one another if there is a major accident.

We are called by NSW Police most of the time through the Triple ‘0’ network, located in Newcastle. When reporting an accident, it is very important to give the exact location, type of the incident and number of persons involved, as it may cost a person their life if the wrong information is given.

We do have a set area to service, although because we are affiliated to our head body, NSW VRA, we can be called upon to attend or assist other services in any part of the state. Some examples include the Newcastle Earthquake, Gosford Bushfire and the Thredbo Disaster.

What sort of technology and equipment does the Taree Rescue Squad rely on to do its job effectively? 

We use a lot of different types of equipment and technology. The Unit relies on a variety of equipment to perform tasks that may confront them. Hydraulic Equipment is used in rescuing a person from motor vehicle wrecks.

We also use ropes, harnesses, safety equipment in cliff rescues and chainsaws for cutting wood or metal. Portable radios and communication equipment are used at almost every incident, including searching for missing persons or traffic control at motor vehicle accidents. We also rely on generators and lights for night work.

What is vertical rescue?

A vertical rescue is when people or persons are over cliffs or are caught up in trees and need assistance to become free.

Some of the areas where we have had to work to free persons using vertical rescue include Crowdy Headland, Lansdowne Escarpment and Ellenborough Falls at Elands.

Last October we were called to Old Bar, where a plane was flown into and became stuck at the top of a ferris wheel.

How can people find out more if they’d like to become a volunteer?

The best way is to come along to our headquarters building, at Muldoon Street, Taree on a Tuesday night between 7 – 9pm or by calling 6551 5550. People can also check out our website at www.tareerescuesquad.com or come along to Weekend on Wheels.

On May 27, the Taree Rescue Squad is hosting Weekend on Wheels … what is happening on the day, and why should people make a special effort to go along?

This day has been organised because of an approach by Local Car Clubs & Taree VRA to promote the motor industry … on display there will be vintage, customised, street machines, hotrods and dragsters plus a motorbike display, as well as an engine rebuilding competition.

CareFlight will run a static display of services they provide to the community. A dyno display will be present, along with live bands and food stalls. All profits raised on the day will go to the Taree VRA to upgrade essential rescue and first aid equipment.

Thanks John. 

Where Jack Neal Oval near Group Three Leagues Club in Cowper Street, Chatham.

When Saturday 27 May. 7am to 5pm.

Cost $2 per person; $5 per family.

Contact Tony 0428 655 007.

This story was published in issue 63 of the Manning Great Lakes Focus

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