International honour for WA search and rescue personnel
Six Western Australian Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) technicians from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) were today acknowledged for their role in the response to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
On 22 February a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand, resulting in 185 deaths and widespread destruction.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia Martyn Dunne was in Perth today to present citations to six Western Australian personnel that assisted with the search for missing persons and structural assessments following the earthquake.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the USAR technicians were receiving a rare honour in recognition for their outstanding efforts.
“The New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia’s presence today highlights the significance of these international accolades,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“This award ceremony honours the USAR team’s commitment, compassion and dedication while working on the ground in a both a physically and mentally challenging environment.”
“It is rare to receive this type of acknowledgement and this reflects the high esteem held for the work undertaken by the recipients during a period of such devastation.”
The trained WA USAR specialists were deployed as part of a 10 day operational National Task Force and joined search and rescue teams from New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and China.
Working alongside structural engineers, seismologists, geologists, construction workers and demolition experts, the WA USAR team undertook a range of activities while maintaining a state of preparedness to respond to further aftershocks.
The team searched for missing persons, conducted primary and secondary risk assessments of structures and assisted police to retrieve personal belongings from damaged buildings.
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