Marine rescue volunteers from across the State who have excelled in their roles of protecting lives out on the water were recognised at their annual awards last night.
This year’s Volunteer Marine Rescue Service (VMRS) award recipients represented groups from Broome, Busselton, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Leeman and Rockingham.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the VMRS relied on more than 1,200 volunteers who gave up their time to protect the community on our oceans, rivers and waterways.
“The Western Australian coastline stretches some 13,000 kilometres and on any given day there could be someone on the water who needs help,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“More than 600 sea rescues have been performed on our waters this year and without the selfless work performed by our marine volunteers that help may not be available.
“Their vital work is highly prized by the community and those volunteers who have shown excellence in their contribution to the service were celebrated last night in front of friends, family and colleagues.”
Commissioner Gregson thanked these outstanding volunteers for their contribution to ensuring both the local boating community and visitors to our shores were very well protected.
“The awards are not only about highlighting an exceptional few people but also acknowledge the bravery and commitment of all our volunteers, and I would like to personally congratulate each and every one of them,” he said.
“Our volunteers are an irreplaceable asset to the community. They are, by nature, humble people who are willing to take time away from their family and work to help others.
“It is warming to see the numbers of marine rescue groups has increased this year and there are now 36 groups around the State protecting lives out on the water.”
The Volunteer Marine Rescue Service provides a range of services, from assisting the Western Australia Police perform search and rescue missions at sea to spending thousands of hours monitoring the movement of recreational vessels and providing safety advice to boat owners.
Further detail about each of the award recipients are below:
The Volunteer Marine Rescue Awards recognise volunteer skills, knowledge, experience and extraordinary commitment to the community and are presented in five categories.
The 2012 Volunteer Marine Rescue Service award winners are:
Paul Kimber Award for Excellence in Volunteer Marine Rescue Services:
Rockingham Volunteer Sea Rescue Group
The Rockingham Group has been recognised for its outstanding efforts across a wide range of areas including marine rescues and in particular a response over two days involving a sailor lost overboard from a container ship. Members also support thousands of public log-ins, make a major contribution to community safety, and continuously maintain a high level of training.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Award for Outstanding Member:
Merry Hide, Leeman Sea Search and Rescue
Merry is a hard working marine rescue volunteer who goes above and beyond what is required. Since she joined the Leeman Group as a radio operator in 2005, she has shown unwavering dedication and initiative, moving through the ranks to fill the Secretary role before taking over as Commander in 2009. Her invaluable contribution has seen a transformation to a vibrant, active group with a positive public profile. She has also utilised her outstanding leadership skills to great effect during incidents, in particular during a nine day search for a missing sea man.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Award for personal contribution by a VMRS Youth Volunteer:
Busselton Volunteer Sea Rescue Group
The Busselton Group has been recognised for their commitment to fostering and developing youth.
VMRWA Commander’s Award:
Cocos (Keeling) Island Volunteer Marine Rescue Group
These marine volunteers were involved in the rescue of 32 asylum seekers from North Keeling Island in June. This necessitated rescuers swimming 50 metres through breaking waves in the dark of night to shore before escorting the refugees back through the breakers to waiting rescue vessels. They all arrived safely back at their destination at around 3.30am.
VMRWA Award recognising excellence in VMRS group operations:
Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group
The group has been recognised for their efforts assisting in the search and rescue of nearly 40 vessels when storm conditions hit unexpectedly in February. This included a challenging rescue of three local fishermen conducted in two metre swells. The trio were thrown from their boat into heavy swells about 14 kilometres offshore in 60 kilometre winds. They activated a distress signal and once alerted, the Broome volunteers came to their rescue.
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