Firefighters’ fast-water training

Queensland emergency service workers training on the River
Derwent at Plenty.

FAST-FLOWING rapids on the River Derwent near New Norfolk were the venue for two weeks of training for emergency service workers from Queensland this month.

With assistance from Hydro Tasmania, a group of officers from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) spent a fortnight in Tasmania for fast-water training on the River Derwent.

The Motorised Swiftwater Rescue Craft Training is part of QFES’ rescue capability. Crews can be called on at a moment’s notice anywhere in Queensland and can be deployed interstate too if needed. They were used extensively during the Townsville floods in early February.

Hydro Tasmania supported the training by providing with a series of water releases from Lake Meadowbank of up to 100 cumecs, which is the equivalent of 100 tonnes of water every second, giving a serious boost to the water flow through the slalom course at the “Broken Bridge” rapids, at Plenty.

A rescue crew training on the Broken Bridge slalom course at
Plenty, near New Norfolk.

Swiftwater rescue instructor Matt Roser said the training program required access to rivers with a consistent flow, which was scarce in Queensland.

“Down here in Tasmania you’ve got beautiful river systems,” he said. “With Hydro Tasmania, who have been hugely supportive to us, they can basically turn that water on for us when we need it,” Gold Coast station officer Roser said.

The training covered skills from boat-handling and how to ferry passengers, to holding in position and rescuing casualties from flowing water.

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