Darwin NTES 29/5/2011
On our travels of the Northern Territory (NT), Jim and I have visited a Darwin based unit of Northern Territory Emergency Service (NTES) volunteers. Tuesday 24 May 2011.
The evening training was about basic search techniques which were leading towards a daytime exercise in near future. This was being presented by Unit Officer, Mark Fishlock. What captured our attention was the need and practice for police to work alongside NTES volunteers with firearms due to the risk of encountering dangerous wildlife, particularly snakes and crocodiles. Given the density and height of the under foliage in some savannah and wetland areas, Jim and I appreciated this practice. We have encountered these living hazards in our travels, thankfully in controlled environments such as Kakadu National Park.
Search resources such as quad bikes, horse mounted searchers and tracking dogs, if required, are provided by NT Police. The NTES volunteers just are not resourced to this extent. Even some of the stories of resupply, logistics and welfare for NTES volunteers sounded a little like pre ESL days compared to our current WA SES expectations.
During the evenings visit both Jim and I had opportunity to discuss SES matters with a number of NTES volunteers. NTES is a section on NT Police, just like Western Australian SES was back in the 1980s and curiously some similar issues that WA SES experienced during this time. Basic equipment and PPE is provided, however this unit has to operate a separate “association” to fund raise outside the “scope and insurance protection of normal SES activities” to fund extra equipment etc. This included car washing, fire support to Darwin Drags and support to annual Beer Can Regatta. They then rely upon event organisers insurance for personal protection. The unit also relies on external funding grants.
The NTES volunteers had also featured in the past week in a NT newspaper for providing vertical rescue facilities to the NT Forensic Police after the discovery of some human bones on a Darwin beach cliff face.
1. Mark giving search lesson.
2. Ben Fairhurst and Multian Singh, NTES volunteers having a yarn with Jim Ridgwell.
3. Mark Fishlock, Unit Officer with Phillip Petersen.
On route through Northern Territory:
Phillip Petersen ESM SESVA Committee and SES volunteer at Gosnells Unit and
Jim Ridgwell SES volunteer at Gosnells Unit