Mock disasters hone SES river rescue skills

IT looked like carnage but everyone survived unharmed from realistic Warrnambool State Emergency Service water exercises on the weekend.

Warrnambool SES unit controller Giorgio Palmeri said volunteer crews took to the Hopkins and Merri rivers for marine training. 

Volunteers simulated a boat grounding along the Hopkins River on Saturday afternoon and a collision between three boats on the Merri yesterday morning. 

Mr Palmeri said the twin-hulled steel catamaran Spirit Of Warrnambool was used in one of the exercises.

“It all went pretty well,” he said. 

“On Saturday the scenario was the Spirit Of Warrnambool was grounded on rocks. 

“There were 18 people on board who had to be evacuated. Some were deceased and some injured.

“Due to the wind we had to go upstream past the ski lane. 

“Today we were on the Merri River and three boats crashed. Our members had to retrieve the casualties and the three boats and then conduct a line search.”

Mr Palmeri said more than 15 people from Dartmoor, Hamilton, Colac and Warrnambool units were involved in the exercise.

“It was one of the bigger exercises for year and Warrnambool organised and planned everything. 

“I wanted to make special mention of Nathan McBain who made the Spirit Of Warrnambool available. 

“That made Saturday’s exercise so much more real and provided outstanding training,” he said.

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