THE challenge of rescuing an injured person from the top of an 84-metre-high wind tower was acted out for a training exercise yesterday at the Macarthur wind farm.
A dummy simulating an injured person was lowered by ropes inside the tower of a wind turbine to give emergency rescue services and wind farm staff from throughout southern Victoria training in how to best deal with emergencies at the great heights and confined spaces.
The training exercise followed an emergency last year when a 25-year-old Portland electrician was injured after a three-kilogram object fell 15 metres onto his head while working inside a wind turbine at Macarthur.
Yesterday’s training exercise was instigated by Hamilton police, who said it was not triggered by last year’s accident but by a general awareness that wind farms presented unique rescue situations.
Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Freeman said the training exercise, which was held during wet weather, went well.
He said it had not only allowed emergency services to learn how to best tackle such situations but provided a forum for wind farms to exchange information about dealing with emergencies and their onsite capabilities.
Senior Sergeant Nick Finnegan said it was a credit to AGL Energy, a joint owner of the Macarthur wind farm, to get all the wind farm operators from southern Victoria together for the training exercise.
Apart from AGL, other wind farm developers, manufacturers and contractors involved were Infigen Energy, Pacific Hydro, Hydro Tasmania, Meridian Energy, REpower, Gold Wind and Downer Electrical.
Emergency services involved included Victoria Police, the Country Fire Authority, Ambulance Victoria and the State Emergency Service.
Sergeant Finnegan said the exercise served as an opportunity for emergency responders to identify hazards, review their capacity to respond and be aware of what the wind farm operators had on hand to assist in any incident that might occur at a wind farm.
AGL Energy’s Victorian wind operations manager Brendan Ryan said wind farms were an established part of the Western District landscape and the training exercise helped the wind energy industry find common ground and establish protocols for rapid response to emergency situations.
The Macarthur wind farm has 140 wind turbines and is the largest in the southern hemisphere.