The Northern Territory Emergency Service recently held a training exercise at Coomalie Creek, approximately 80 kilometres south of Darwin.
The location enabled NTES Volunteers from Katherine, Palmerston and Darwin to participate in an intense one day exercise involving 28 participants.
Exercise Co-ordinator, Acting Regional Manager, Northern Zone, Mark Cunnington said the event gave volunteers the opportunity to practice skills and gain new knowledge.
“We ensured the participants, who may not work together very often, had the chance to develop teamwork and leadership skills and get to know the other volunteers.
“If they are required to work together on any incident in the future this recognition and understanding could be the vital ingredient to a successful outcome.
“Exposure to equipment that may not be utilised regularly also ensured the volunteers gained skills and confidence to use this gear proficiently.
“Our team leaders were rotated around the tasks to make sure each volunteer got the very best training possible.”
Three scenarios were devised that fine-tuned skills and gave the participants a chance to solve problems, work as a team and understand where they will fit in during an ‘All Services Emergency Response.’
Split into three rotating groups the volunteers were required to conduct a line-search for missing children, undertake a search and subsequent victim recovery from a light plane crash and, just because things can and do go wrong, recover a bogged 4wd emergency response vehicle.
In between these scenarios a command post was set up ensuring remote communications were possible, power, water and refreshments available and all safety considerations were accounted for.
Director of NTES, Andrew Warton, was on the scene to meet the volunteers and get a first-hand view of proceedings.
“The exercise was well planned and well managed.
“The location was remote and without power or water however it didn’t take long for the team to establish a Forward Command Post with power and communications.
“It brings home the reality that the majority of the NT is not urban, so NTES (and other) responses often need to be completely self-sufficient,” Mr Warton said.
“Training scenarios framed and delivered as realistically as possible are a key part of NTES as an organisation.
“We are fortunate to have a volunteer force of almost 350 members and all of these members bring a range of practical skills with them.
“To see volunteers and NTES permanent staff practicing their responses in the rural areas of the NT is an extremely satisfying scenario.
“Large exercises of this nature will become more prevalent in the future, and the feedback I received from all NTES members was positive.
“Training is about learning new skills and practising existing skills, but in the volunteer world of NTES it is also about team building, bonding and working together.
“We are extremely privileged in NTES to have such a dedicated and motivated volunteer network.”
Andrew was not satisfied observing however and when the call went out for assistance with a stretcher he was quick to lend a hand.
“It doesn’t matter how long you have been in the service, or what level you are.
“It also doesn’t matter whether you are based in Alice Springs, Darwin or remote NT – NTES is one organisation and our business is responding to calls for help and keeping people safe.”