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NSW gears up to help Queensland respond to Cyclone Yasi

Published: 2nd February 2011

NSW emergency crews - including the State Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce led by Fire and Rescue NSW - are on standby for deployment to Far North Queensland if they are needed to help respond to Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

And tonight a District Emergency Management Officer will fly to Brisbane for preliminary briefings before being deployed to Cairns as part of the initial damage assessment team.

The State Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce will comprise 68 members of FRNSW, the NSW Ambulance Service, NSW Police Force, Department of Services, Technology and Administration and representatives of the ACT Fire Brigade.

Premier Kristina Keneally today said the NSW Government had offered all possible assistance to Queensland as the State braced for the impact of the category five cyclone - expected to cross the North Queensland coast late tonight.

Wind gusts of up to 300 km/h and a dangerous sea level rise as the cyclone approaches, crosses the coast and moves inland are expected to cause widespread destruction.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning that Tropical Cyclone Yasi is likely to be more dangerous than any experienced during recent generations.

"NSW stands ready to provide whatever help and support is needed by our northern neighbours as they face Cyclone Yasi," Ms Keneally said.

"The State Emergency Operations Centre has been activated around-the-clock to monitor current NSW bush fire, flood and heatwave conditions and coordinate any required NSW response to assist with Cyclone Yasi.

"Senior NSW emergency services leaders are in constant contact with their Queensland counterparts and are ready to provide all necessary support, resources and personnel.

"As we saw during both the Queensland and Victorian floods, our emergency services workers - both paid staff and volunteers - have been quick to offer their assistance to their interstate colleagues as they face terrifying weather.

"I again thank them for their professionalism, courage and commitment to protecting the people of this nation in times of great need."

The NSW State Emergency Service is ready to despatch:

  • Highly-trained volunteers and staff;
  • Swift water rescue technicians;
  • Air operations experts;
  • Logistics and IT support officers;
  • Chaplains; and
  • Floodboats.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said the first NSW specialist to head north - a District Emergency Management Officer from the Monaro region - would travel to Brisbane for preliminary briefings tonight before then being deployed to Cairns as part of the initial damage assessment team.

The State Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce, led by Fire and Rescue NSW, is on standby for immediate deployment north as required.

"This fully self-supporting team will comprise 68 members of FRNSW, the NSW Ambulance Service, NSW Police Force, Department of Services, Technology and Administration and representatives of the ACT Fire Brigade," Mr Whan said.

"These search and rescue specialists include firefighters, Police officers, Ambulance paramedics, engineers and control, planning and incident commanders.

"They will be able to conduct structural assessments on buildings and critical infrastructure such as bridges, confined-space search and rescue with thermal imaging cameras and listening devices, limited hazardous materials clearance and medical aid."

A team of additional District Emergency Management Officers also is available to assist Queensland councils with ongoing community recovery operations and other NSW Government agencies are liaising with their Queensland counterparts about possible assistance.