Fire and Rescue (FRNSW) marathon floodwater rescue - Wee Waa - Wee Waa

Published: 27 Nov 2021 11:38am

Fire and Rescue crew carries out marathon mission to
reach injured woman trapped by floodwaters – Wee Waa
A four-person Fire and Rescue (FRNSW) team has trekked through raging floodwaters on a marathon six-hour rescue mission to reach a seriously ill and injured woman, trapped on an isolated farm at Wee Waa in the state’s north.
The crew, based at Lambton in Newcastle, was part of a FRNSW swift water group, assisting the State Emergency Service-led flood response, when it was called into action on Saturday (27 November).
The team set out in an aluminium boat, towing a rubber dinghy, on the Kamilaroi Highway in a bid to reach the farm, four-and-a-half kilometres away in Cudgewa Lane.
The firefighters were forced to repeatedly carry their boats, trudging through shin-deep sections of water and dry land, before resuming their journey through floodwaters, across fast-running creeks and a causeway.
In hot conditions, they brushed off spiders clambering onto the boats and received help from a passing farmer with a ute.
“We were able to load our inflatable boat into it,” Leading Firefighter, Andrew Griffiths, explained, ”He carried us some of the way before we could get back into the water.”
The firefighters eventually reached the waiting property owner and he led them to his wife, who was suffering from a fever, severe dehydration and an injured back.
“She had been nauseous for a few days and had severe back pain which made her logistically difficult to move…as well as severe migraine headaches and vomiting,” Andrew said.
After applying first aid, they tried to call in a helicopter to extract the woman but the aircraft were busy with other rescues, so the team hatched an idea to place the woman in the farmer’s air-conditioned 4x4 tractor and drive her out.
“We transported the patient with the farmer driving the tractor…we had swift water technicians walking in front of the tractor to guide it away from the deeper sections," Andrew said.
Each team-member has 20 years of Fire and Rescue experience, between five and 10 years each as swift water experts.
“It wasn’t that technical, it was just the distance, really,” Team leader, Acting Station Officer Damien Armstrong, recalled, “Fortunately, I’ve got experience in reading the water and can determine what’s underneath even though you can’t see it.”
“Obviously, snakes were a factor we had to be concerned about,” Damien added.
“We all knew each other, we had confidence in each other immediately, so it made it a lot easier and we’ve all got different, extra skills.”
The FRNSW guides eventually reached a waiting ambulance, which took their patient to hospital.
They then turned back to rendezvous with their two colleagues and the equipment-laden boats, and together, the exhausted crew headed for base, mission completed.

Updated: 30 Jan 2023 09:14pm

listView more incidents

Details about this incident may change and should not be used as emergency information and/or advice.

For all life threatening emergencies, call Triple Zero (000)

For flood information, warnings or requests for non-life threatening assistance, call the SES on 132 500 or visit the NSW State Emergency Service website here. [external link].

For information directly relating to bushfires please call the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or visit the NSW Rural Fire Service Website here. [external link]

Stations nearby

WEE WAA Fire Station

56 Rose Street, Wee Waa NSW 2388

NARRABRI Fire Station

2 Doyle Street, Narrabri NSW 2390

BOGGABRI Fire Station

175 Merton Street, Boggabri NSW 2382