NSW Search and Rescue Task Force returns from Japan

Published: 22nd March 2011

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Deputy Police Commissioner and State Emergency Operations Controller, Dave Owens and Acting Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service of NSW, Mike Willis, greeted and thanked the NSW Search and Rescue Task Force on their return from Japan’s earthquake zone today.

Commissioner Mullins said the 76 strong Task Force, comprising of 56 fire and rescue specialists, two structural engineers, nine paramedics, two retrieval  doctors, a police specialist and two search dog teams was led by FRNSW.

"The Task Force established a base of operations in Minamikata, 139 km north of the Fukushima nuclear plant and worked 30 km further north in Shizugawa in Minami Sanriku searching earthquake and tsunami wreckage for survivors under severe weather conditions," Commissioner Mullins said.

"Team spirit was very good and morale high amongst the group, some of whom were veterans of earthquakes in Taiwan, Turkey and Indonesia, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the Thredbo landslide.

"To ensure Task Force members' safety, radiation monitoring was undertaken constantly using personal dosimeters and a number of different detectors. Levels were well within acceptable limits at all times," Commissioner Mullins said.

Deputy Police Commissioner, Dave Owens, said he was extremely proud of the dedication and work performed by the team, assisting the devastated Japanese communities.

"Yet again, as with the New Zealand deployment, we were able to send help immediately with a highly trained, highly disciplined, and fully equipped team," he said.

"The NSW emergency workers have been praised for making a huge difference during the rescue operations under very trying and extremely difficult circumstances.

"But we are Australians, and always happy to lend a hand and to do our best.

"I am thrilled and relieved that our officers are back, safe and sound on Australian soil," he said.

Acting Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service of NSW, Mike Willis said that in recent times paramedics have responded to disasters both at home and overseas.

"They have shown true professionalism, courage and encountered personal sacrifice as they rendered assistance to victims of the Queensland floods, Christchurch earthquake and the Japanese tsunami," Mr Willis said.

"Our paramedics and retrieval doctors are well trained for these emergencies and always ready to respond at short notice to help our neighbours both here and abroad," he said.

Australia has donated the team's tents, shelters, generators, beds, food stocks and water to help local authorities in relief efforts. Medicines and medical equipment were given to the local hospital.

Commissioner Mullins said the Task Force has ably and bravely completed its deployment to areas most badly hit by the devastating earthquake and the following tsunami in north eastern Japan.

"We congratulate and thank them for their hard work in assisting the Japanese people in their hour of need, just as the Japanese assisted so readily in Christchurch recently. They have not only made all members of the emergency services proud, but the entire Australian Community," he said.