News Focus | Wimmera State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority units team up to train volunteers with Mt Arapiles rescue techniques

IN an aim to complete rescues at Mt Arapiles in a safer and more timely manner, the State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority will team up to train volunteers in steep angle and high angle rescue techniques.

Grampians Region SES operations manager Kendra Clegg said emergency services were working collaboratively to provide the same training.

“SES has provided response rescues under Victoria Police Search and Rescue for three decades, but in recent times training regulations have changed for rope rescues,” she said.

“Due to the extensive training requirements, we lost a lot of interest from our volunteers and numbers have declined in the past few years. 

“So the CFA put their hand up to assist with the training of volunteers. We’re looking forward to working with the CFA to conduct these rescues. 

“CFA and SES have a common goal through safe responses, and we will always put the safety of our responders first.”

A four-day training session in October will focus specifically on steep angle rescue training. A session for high angle rescue training will follow at a later date.

​”We want to increase our capability to undertake high angle rescues at Mt Arapiles,” she said.​

“It’s a special skill that requires ongoing training. There needs to be that local capability to respond safely to incidents at the mountain. 

“Self rescues happen which is not ideal; they have a high risk of injury and it’s important that we asses that community risk.”

Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

The Grampians is also notorious for rescues.

Stawell SES controller Alan Blight said the service had an intensive high angle rescue routine under Police Search and Rescue.

“Because it’s a specialist rescue, it’s really hard to train people,” he said.

“There is also a very high demanding level of maintenance involved, as well as a high level of risk.”

Due to the extensive training requirements, we lost a lot of interest from our volunteers.

Grampians Region State Emergency Service operations manager Kendra Clegg

Mr Bright said it took eight people to complete a rescue.

“The CFA has some different protocols than us,” he said.

 “For example, we use different sizes of ropes which means our equipment can’t be used with theirs. But we are slowly coming in line with each other.”

He said there were some differences between rescues at the two locations. 

“We don’t have the same number of climbers living here as Natimuk,” he said.

“We can respond within 20 minutes, which would be a similar time as Mt Arapiles, but geographically it takes a lot longer for them to rescue people.

“In the Grampians, you can walk to the area where a person needs to be rescued from, whereas at Ararpiles they need to climb to the area.”