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NSW fire and rescue specialists return from Queensland

Published: 18th January 2011

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan thanked NSW emergency services and fire and rescue personnel returning today for their hard work in assisting the Queensland flood rescue and relief efforts.

Twenty-eight personnel from Fire and Rescue NSW, four SCAT  paramedics from the Ambulance Service of NSW and two engineers from the Department of Services, Technology and Administration today returned to Sydney following a five-day deployment in some of the worst hit flood areas in Queensland. 

In addition, 12 swift-water rescue specialists from FRNSW returned from Queensland over the weekend, having assisted flood victims in Brisbane, St George, Dirranbandi, Chinchilla and Rockhampton. 

"The NSW rescue specialists were needed to assist exhausted Queensland crews who had been on duty continuously since the flood emergency began before Christmas," said Mr Whan.

"Our crews assisted with all types of emergency support including standing-by to protect towns for flood rescues, moving trapped residents through floodwaters to higher ground, assisting with food distribution, pet rescues, evacuations and conducting thousands of rapid damage assessments of homes and factories inundated by floodwaters," said Mr Whan.

A FRNSW veteran with 15 years experience, and one who had experienced the aftermath of the Banda Aceh tsunami, both said the conditions tested them and were as bad as any they had seen in their careers.

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said the crews not only contended with severe flooding but had to traverse waters teeming with deadly brown snakes, taipans, huge logs, gas bottles, oil, petrol and even a 4 metre crocodile.

"The crews worked extremely well with their Queensland counterparts and were integrated seamlessly into teams. Sharing common training with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service made the integration much easier and more efficient," said Commissioner Mullins.

"The Queensland emergency service personnel and residents have expressed how thankful they are for the support they have received from all around Australia," said Mr Whan.

FRNSW firefighters remain deployed in the Rocklea Markets area in Brisbane, where they have cleared an area the size of six football fields to facilitate the rapid recommencement of essential food distribution.

Fast facts:

The urban search and rescue taskforce returning today to NSW undertook:

  • 3200 damage assessments of residences
  • 26 medical assists
  • 7 towns were reviewed for the status of critical infrastructure
  • 28 bridges were checked for structural integrity
  • 7 engineering assessments conducted on major buildings