Tag Archives: rescues

New South Wales | Sydney storms – One very busy night for fire & rescue crews

Last night’s unprecedented extreme weather across Sydney and the Illawarra has seen Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) experience one of its busiest nights in history.

Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said FRNSW had taken 1,105 Triple Zero (000) calls from 6pm yesterday to 8am today.

“Last night every fire truck in the Sydney and Illawarra area responded to numerous emergencies from flood rescues to house fires caused by lightning strikes,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“We initially responded six fire trucks and 24 firefighters from Sydney to help the 17 crews in the Illawarra, who were all out on the road dealing with the incidents caused by the extreme weather. As the storm front moved over Sydney, crews from the Illawarra and the Central Coast travelled to Sydney to help deal with the influx of calls.

“At the height of the storm more than 100 fire trucks and nearly 500 firefighters were deployed to emergencies across Sydney.

“Because of the extremely high number of calls we were receiving, off-duty firefighters were recalled at around 9:30pm to staff eight additional fire engines, which were deployed across Sydney.

“At the peak of the bad weather last night – 9:30pm – we had 230 active emergencies at once.

“This morning we are assisting the NSW State Emergency Service with four fire trucks and 16 firefighters deployed to southern Sydney. This is on top of the dozens of firefighters out securing trees and wires across the greater Sydney area.”

Between 6pm and 8am, FRNSW firefighters responded to 970 emergencies, including
• 95 fires (including at least two fires started by lightning strikes at Kellyville and Normanhurst)
• 384 storm-related emergencies, including wires down, trees down and flooding, including a call to flooding over three levels at Wollongong Hospital at 6:16pm
• 87 rescues such as rescuing people from cars and homes, including a man who was rescued by firefighters at Warrawong after he was trapped underneath a tree at around 7pm
• 15 HAZMATS such as overflowing pipes
• 27 medical assistance emergencies
• 12 bush and grass fires (most likely started by lightning)
• 350 other callouts such as automatic fire alarms being set off by winds, power outages and heavy rain.

Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW would continue to provide support to the NSW SES during the protracted clean up operations.

“I can only praise firefighters and our other emergency service colleagues for their mighty effort,” he said.

“We’re also appealing to the public to only call Triple Zero if it is a genuine emergency For flood and storm assistance, call the NSW SES on 132 500,” he said.

VIC | Fire crews rescue reptiles from school classroom blaze


CFA firefighters have rescued dozens of snakes and other reptiles from a school fire in Lilydale.

Eight trucks from Lilydale, Mooroolbark, Mt Evelyn and Bayswater were called to the Melba Avenue school shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

CFA District 13 Operations Officer Don Tomkins said crews arrived to find a portable classroom – which was housing snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles – on fire.

“There was a lot of smoke issuing from the structure so crews wore breathing apparatus during the firefight,” he said.

After extinguishing the blaze, crews discovered some of the animals had escaped their enclosures.

“Our crews helped the local school teacher to round up the reptiles but, sadly, some animals were lost during the fire.”

“We’re still not sure on how many died as a result of the blaze, but crews saved many of them and they’re now in safe keeping.”

An emergency refuge is being organised to house the remaining snakes and reptiles.

The cause is being investigated this morning, but it is not believed to be suspicious.

California | San Diego County Animal Services rescues dozens of animals from wildfires

Nearly all the animals rescued by the County Department of Animal Services during the recent wildfires are back home with their owners.

Animal Services rescued more than 50 animals when fires broke out across North County last week. In all six cats, four goats, 18 dogs, 21 horses, an emu and a bird were taken in to the department’s care. Only three cats remain.

Animal Control officers also helped a couple dozen owners evacuate their horses to locations other than the shelters. Officers evacuated between 40 and 50 head of cattle from just one ranch alone.

“We help people evacuate themselves and their horses out to an alternate facility,” said Animal Services Deputy Director Harold Holmes. “We do not provide vehicles or trailers but we’ll help you load a horse that might be a little spooked by the smoke or one that is not used to a trailer into one and direct you to an evacuation center.”

Animal Control Officers also responded to reports of animals “at large.” In one case a woman turned her horses loose because she didn’t have time to load them. When Animal Services arrived, someone had already managed to contain them and get them out of the area. In another instance, two dogs were turned loose in Carlsbad because a resident couldn’t get anyone to drive them out. Officers found one and rescued it. The owner found the second dog Wednesday. The animal was still running the streets when he recognized his owner and went to him. The dog is OK.

“This is going to be a very long fire season. We have the potential for more and bigger fires,” said Holmes. “This incident serves as a wake-up call to review our disaster plans and get better prepared.”

Animal Services says pets should always be a part of your disaster planning. Microchips have shown time and again their ability to reunite lost animals with their owners quickly.

“It could save your pet’s life,” said Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson. “We have rescued hundreds of animals during past fires and the first thing we do is check for a microchip.”

Every Thursday, the department’s three shelters microchip and register dogs, cats and rabbits for $10. The department also holds microchipping and registration events at various locations throughout the year.

Another new tool is a smartphone app called Finding Rover. Animal Services is the first sheltering organization in the nation to begin using the free app, which uses facial recognition to match lost and found pets and can be used by anyone. Animal Services updates its database of animals with Finding Rover several times daily so if your pet is turned into the shelter, you can check your smartphone or computer to see if he’s there. For more information on Animal Services, visit sddac.com.

UK | Off-duty paramedic hailed as hero shared credit with Good Sams

Following a serious RTC which happened on Saturday on the A66 between Penrith and Keswick, North West Ambulance Service arranged for ITV The Border to interview Paramedic Graham Green, who, at the time, was off duty and rescued all five patients from a vehicle which was on fire.

The link to the piece which aired on the breakfast show is as follows: http://www.itv.com/news/border/update/2014-04-22/full-report-paramedic-says-bystanders-saved-lives-of-crash-family/

British Columbia | Good Sams come to aid of Mom and toddlers trapped in overturned vehicle

A Mom and her two young children have a couple of motorists to thank for coming to their aid, after the vehicle they were travelling in clipped a logging truck and ended up on its roof, with them inside.

Their car, a Ford Focus, was involved in a collision with a north bound logging truck Wednesday April 15th at approximately 1:30 PM, near the intersection of Morden Rd and the Trans-Canada highway. They were travelling in the fast lane when the 38 year female driver travelling with her seven and two year old, suddenly lost control and swerved into the slow lane. She struck the rear end of the truck and the force of the impact caused her vehicle to flip upside down. It came to rest on its roof on the side of the road. They all received some injuries but none were considered life threatening.

Chris Moore, age 45, was one of the first to arrive. He was followed by another motorist who also stopped to render assistance. Moore barely remembers stopping but within seconds he was vehicle side and heard the screams. He saw a female with a gash to her forehead and a young boy crawling out of the vehicle. The woman then screamed to get her other son out. Moore sensed the panic in her voice and grasped the urgency of the situation. He also could smell gas.

I remember thinking to myself , I hope the other guy has enough sense to pull me out if this car catches on fire, said Moore.

Moore and the other man worked in tandem and after some difficulty, they managed to remove the toddler from his car seat and out of the car. Moore and the other man stayed with them all until paramedics arrived.

I did what anybody else would do and I’m just so glad we arrived when we did and were able to help this young family, said Moore.

The mom was kept overnight at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for observation. Her boys were examined and released some time later the same day. Her vehicle was destroyed in the collision and was towed from the scene.

NSW | Flood update – Friday afternoon – 28 March 2014

The NSW SES has been responding to over 50 requests for assistance as a result of flooding in the North East of the State. Most requests are for leaking roofs, sandbagging and there have been two flood rescues.

Rain has eased in the Northern Rivers area but flooding along the Richmond and Wilsons rivers later today is still expected. At this stage it is not possible to predict the flood peak because of uncertainty over how much more rain will fall. The Wilsons River at Lismore will exceed minor flood level (4.2 metres AHD) around midnight tonight and reach 5.8 metres AHD early Saturday with minor flooding.At Coraki it will reach 3.9 metres early Sunday with minor flooding and at Bungawalbin Will reach 3.0 metres early Sunday with minor flooding

At 4.36m Slater Creek may back up and inundate Pitt Street near the Richmond River Sports Oval in North Lismore. Between 5.10 to 5.30m Water starts to cover Simes Bridge. Alternative routes available between North Lismore and Lismore include:

Alexandra Parade, Tweed Street, Terania Street, the southern end of Bridge Street and over the bridge to Woodlark Street. Or Alexandra Parade, Tweed Street, Wilson Street via the Robert White Bridge, Casino Street, Union Street then via Woodlark Street or the Bruxner Highway.

At 5.71m Bridge Street, near McKenzie Park in North Lismore is inundated by water backing up Slater Creek. This does not affect the alternate routes from North Lismore. Junction Street, between the southern ends of Molesworth and Keen streets, maybe covered by water backing up Gasworks Creek. This may occur as a result of stormwater flooding.

In the Tweed Valley, rain has eased considerably since 9 am this morning. River levels at Uki and Eungella peaked early this morning. The main flood peak in the Tweed River is currently near Brays Park Weir and is expected to reach Murwillumbah around noon today with minor flooding. On the Tweed River the community of Uki is isolated, this may last into Saturday. Minor flooding near Murwillumbah is not expected to have any significant consequences.

On the Brunswick River the communities of The Pocket and Upper Main Arm are isolated, as are properties on the lower valley. This is affecting around 2,000 people. The isolation is expected to be short lived as conditions are easing.

For the Namoi River, the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted that a flood height of 5.40 metres will be reached at Wee Waa with minor flooding, possibly along Blackgate Gully, Vera’s Leap and Trindals Lane.At this height a number of rural roads in these areas will be affected by floodwater or impassable. Farmers and residents in low-lying areas that may experience minor flooding should secure pumps and other equipment and move livestock to high ground.

For information on preparing for flooding visit the FloodSafe website at www.floodsafe.com.au

For information on river heights, weather radar, rainfall figures and river warnings visit www.bom.gov.au/nsw/warnings

If emergency help is required call the NSW SES on 132 500 or 000 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

New Zealand | Life Flight team makes multiple rescues in Kaitoke Gorge

Four of the people rescued on the riverbank as the helicopter lowers into the Kaitoke Gorge.  Photo Credit: Life Flight
Four of the people rescued on the riverbank as the helicopter lowers into the Kaitoke Gorge. Photo Credit: Life Flight

Late this morning Police Search and Rescue notified Life Flight that nine people were missing after going into the gorge yesterday afternoon.  

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was in the process of transporting a medical patient from Paraparaumu when notified of the missing group.  After transporting the patient to hospital and refuelling, the helicopter with a Wellington Free Ambulance Paramedic and a Police SAR staff member headed to the search area just north of Twin Lakes in Upper Hutt.

As the helicopter entered the search area the team was notified by Police Comms that three of the people had made their way out but there were six people still stranded up the river.

“After a short search we located the missing people on the river bank a few kilometre up the river” says Dave Greenberg, Life Flight Crewman.  “Due to the windy conditions in the gorge we dropped off the paramedic and policeman before returning to the river and rescuing the stranded people two at a time.”

The helicopter made three trips to the group, picking up two people at a time.

“Our pilot Dean did an amazing job hovering just above the riverbank so we can get the people into the helicopter” says Greenberg.  “It was very windy down there and the gorge was quite narrow so there was not a lot of room for him to manoeuvre”.

The six people were tired and cold but otherwise OK.   They were transported to waiting police and Wellington Free Ambulance crews who were able to check them out.

The Life Flight Trust is a charity providing air rescue and air ambulance services. It operates the Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter and a nationwide air ambulance service. It relies on support from the public and sponsorship from partners such as Westpac to provide these services. Further information can be obtained from www.lifeflight.org.nz

New South Wales | Triple threat storm season comes to an end for NSW SES

The members of the NSW SES have proven their versatility again this storm season, dealing not only with the challenges of storm damage and flooding, but also the devastating  impacts of tornados,  responding to more than 17,100 storm and flood jobs.

The season began with a series of severe thunderstorms that brought damaging winds which unroofed homes and businesses and brought down trees. These winds mainly affected the coastal parts of the state including Sydney.

In January, the Severe Weather went from wind impacts to heavy rainfall. This led to nearly every coastal river system from the Queensland border down to Sydney experiencing some degree of flooding. Major flooding hit communities along the North Coast and Mid North Coast of New South Wales, resulting in over a dozen evacuations as rivers rose, and in some cases, levee systems were overtopped. Hardest hit were the communities around Grafton, Maclean and Kempsey.

The widespread flooding resulted in 139 flood rescues, with many people deliberately entering floodwater. An  additional 22 rescues of animals were also carried out.  The flooding also resulted in isolations to many communities along the North Coast and Mid North Coast for several weeks.  The NSW SES conducted resupply operations delivering food and medical supplies to these affected communities and assisting with medical transport where needed.

Towards the end of the season the severe thunderstorm activity, escalated to what was sometimes referred to as “supercells”.  In some cases these intense thunderstorm cells produced tornados. The associated violent winds caused extensive damage to properties and serious injuries to people. The communities affected by these three separate systems included Kiama and Gerringong on the south coast, the Sydney suburbs of Randwick and Chifley, and Mulwala, Corowa and Barooga on the NSW-Victorian border.

NSW SES Commissioner Murray Kear has praised the efforts of SES volunteers and other agencies for their response to these events.

“As with the previous three storm seasons, there wasn’t a part of our state that didn’t at one time or another require the help of the NSW SES. Once again our amazing volunteers displayed their generosity and community spirit in giving up time with their family and work to support these affected communities. They deserve our praise and thanks,” Commissioner Kear said.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the community minded employers that release their staff who are NSW SES volunteers to help with these important operations, ” he said.

“While the storm season runs from October to March , wild weather is a year-round possibility so it’s important for everyone to be prepared for severe weather,” he added..

The NSW SES now has two websites to ensure everyone  can easily prepare for storms and flooding .

Check out NSW SES FloodSafe http://www.floodsafe.com.au/

and NSW SES StormSafe http://www.stormsafe.com.au/

Keep up to date on what’s happening at our Facebook site http://www.facebook.com/NSW.SES 

For emergency help in a flood or storm call 132 500. Call 000 in a life threatening emergency.


Scotland | Severe weather update – Major impacts continue

Transport Minister Keith Brown has chaired a further Scottish Government Resilience (SGoR) meeting this morning as part of the response to the impact of the severe weather across Scotland.

Heavy snow caused disruption across the UK throughout yesterday and continues to impact on energy supplies and transport infrastructure today. In Scotland more than 18,000 homes are without power, mainly in Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute and the Isle of Arran.

Utility companies are working hard to restore power and are proactively calling out to vulnerable customers to provide reassurance, information and support.

In addition, generators are being deployed in some of the worst affected areas to restore power to customers while repairs are being carried on the network infrastructure. Additional linesmen and engineers have also been deployed in affected areas to accelerate the restoration process as the weather conditions improve.

The weather has also impacted on the road network in some areas and difficulties remain on the A77 and A75, with sections of the road remaining blocked. Efforts continue to reopen those sections of roads closed and welfare centres in Stranraer, Ballantrae, Newton Stewart and Girvan have provided shelter and food overnight for drivers who were unable to complete their journeys.  Meanwhile, Police and mountain rescue supported drivers who elected to stay in their cars with provisions.

The A9 which saw closures yesterday Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore as a result of high winds and low visibility has reopened and traffic is moving on that route.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

“The impact of yesterday’s extreme wintry weather across the UK has been seen in some areas of Scotland, with the South West of Scotland and Argyll and Bute seeing the worst of the conditions.

“Power companies are working closely with road operating companies to provide emergency access and with local authorities to identify vulnerable customers to ensure they are being dealt with. They are also doing all they can to support communities affected by power outages.

“While the worst of the snow is slowly abating, high winds blowing snow already on the ground  continues to make clearing the A75 and A77 in some sections difficult. Every effort is being made collectively by our road operating companies, local authorities and other partners to clear the main routes. Some drivers chose to stay in their cars overnight on the A75 and they were supported by emergency services and the local mountain rescue volunteers.  We’re not aware of anyone who was not offered a form of accommodation last night.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the efforts of all involved.  From council employees working flat out to support the vulnerable and those in rest centres through the dedicated staff in all our emergency services and utility companies who worked through the night we’ve seen a joined up and committed response.  I’d particular single out those communities and volunteers who have contributed – the great work done by Mountain Rescue and by farmers in clearing roads and supporting the needy in Dumfries and Galloway are just some examples.

“Weather reports indicate the cold weather is set to continue into next week, so our winter fleet of 130 vehicles will continue to work flat out across the trunk road network provide gritting and road clearing operations and moving plant to where it’s needed as required.

“While we’re doing all we can to minimize travel related disruption, we’d urge drivers to follow police advice, particularly where the advice is not to travel. Please plan all journeys in advance and use all the available traffic and travel information.

“The Scottish Government’s Resilience team will continue to coordinate response and recovery activity throughout the weekend and offer assistance where possible.”

The Multi Agency Response Team (MART), based at the Traffic Control Centre in Glasgow, includes representatives from Traffic Scotland, Transport Scotland, the police, rail operators, road operating companies and the Met Office. Trunk road operating companies have all their resources available, including patrols, and will pre-position resources in areas of special attention.

For real time journey information visit www.trafficscotland.org follow @trafficscotland on Twitter, or call 0800 028 14 14.

The full Weather Alerts, including the Chief Forecaster’s Assessment and a map showing the areas included in the Alerts, are available here:


Information on the potential impacts at the differing impacts levels can be found at:  http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/guide/weather/severe-weather-advice

Rail, ferries and air users should check with individual service operators’ websites.

Transport Scotland, working in partnership with the police, has developed a severe weather information strategy to warn and inform road users when significant disruption to the road network is expected during extreme weather. The advice and information service will commence when severe weather is forecast within Scotland. Forecast information will be provided in advance and during  severe weather conditions. The travel advice relates to four specific stages which will be adopted depending on the severity of the weather:

Normal operations – No severe weather

Travel with caution – Police are advising people that conditions for road travel are hazardous and drivers should exercise extra caution.

High risk of disruption for road journeys – Police are advising that conditions for travel are extremely poor and there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys. Travellers are likely to experience significant delays

Avoid travelling on the roads – Police advise drivers to avoid travelling on the roads. Travellers will experience severe delays of several hours or more.

The Scottish Government’s ‘Ready for Winter?’ campaign, in partnership with the British Red Cross, was launched in October and provides information and advice to individuals and communities on how to prepare and cope with severe weather including snow, ice, flooding and high-winds. Detailed advice on how to deal with winter weather at home, on the move, in the workplace and in the community is available online at http://www.readyscotland.org/are-you-ready/winter-weather/ . A new Ready Scotland smartphone app, which gives users instant access to information, advice and essential contact details for a wide range of emergency situations offline, can be downloaded free at http://www.readyscotland.org/are-you-ready/smartphone-app.

New York | FDNY firefighter returns from Afghanistan and saves people from fire

031813a1Firefighter James Denniston, Engine 285, spent three months in Afghanistan as part of the 101st Rescue Squadron as part of the New York Air National Guard, and on his first tour back in his Queens firehouse, he was part of a team that rescued four people from an all-hands fire.

“It was a humbling experience for me to be back and part of such a good team,” he said.

Just before 8 a.m. on March 16, firefighters were called to Rockaway Boulevard and 110th Street for a fire on the top floor of a three-story building.

When the members of Engine 285 – including Lt. Brian Santosus, and Firefighters Richard Faraci, Dennis O’Keefe, Jean Tanis and Denniston – arrived, he said they saw people hanging out the windows.

Firefighter Denniston said once the first hoseline was in operation in the front of the building, he and the other members of his company immediately turned their attention to the victims.

Firefighter Tanis got a ladder and rescued two people from the third floor. Firefighters Denniston and O’Keefe then grabbed a 24-foot ladder, and while Firefighter O’Keefe went up and helped a woman from the third floor, while Firefighter Denniston grabbed a smaller ladder and removed someone from the second floor.

“There was a good smoke condition out the windows and people most certainly were panicked,” he said.

He added that the experience, which is unusual for any firefighter who works on in an engine company (who normally focuses on extinguishing the fire rather than rescues), let alone on his first tour back at the firehouse, was overwhelming.

“It was the last thing I expected,” he said. “It wasn’t something that when I went to work after being away for a while I thought would happen. But I can’t say enough good things about [Lt. Santosus and Firefighters Faraci, O’Keefe, and Tanis]. They’re great firemen across the board. Their split second moves saved these people.”