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Media Release

Western Australia’s finest marine rescue volunteers honoured
Sunday 22 September 2013 – 8:00 AM
Excellence in rescue at sea was celebrated at the 2013 Volunteer Marine Rescue Services (VMRS) Awards yesterday.
 
The VMRS provides a range of services from performing search and rescue missions at sea, to spending thousands of hours monitoring the movement of recreational vessels and providing safety advice to boat owners.
 
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the five award recipients each demonstrated the commitment, dedication and skills required to be a marine rescue volunteer.
 
“In the past few years, there has been exceptional growth in Western Australia’s boating culture with the result being a significant increase in demand for the expertise of the VMRS,” Commissioner Gregson said.
 
“Marine rescue volunteers responded to more than 900 search and rescue incidents across WA last year, a 150 percent increase on the year before.”
 
Commissioner Gregson said the award recipients were acknowledged for giving up their free time to ensure the safety of both the local boating community and visitors to WA’s shores.
 
Vice Commander of the Volunteer Marine Rescue Association WA Roger Martin and Iesha Gaitskell of Carnarvon Volunteer Sea Rescue were individual award recipients this year, while Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue was one of several group winners.
 
Other group recipients were Albany Sea Rescue Squad for saving a man stranded on the cliffs at Cave Point and Volunteer Marine Rescue Shark Bay for a courageous sea rescue that was completed in hazardous conditions.
 
“Daring rescues such as those undertaken by the award winners require dedication, experience and an adherence to safety,” Commissioner Gregson said.
 
“The VMRS Awards are not only about paying accolades to a remarkable few, they also recognise the courage and loyalty of all our marine rescue volunteers and I would like to congratulate each one of them.”
 
The Volunter Marine Rescue Services Awards for 2013 were presented across five categories:
 
Paul Kimber Award Recognising Excellence in VMRS
Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue
The group has worked tirelessly over the past year to raise public and political awareness of the dangers at the entrance to Murchison River. Guarded by several reefs and dynamic conditions the river mouth has been a hot spot for boating accidents, and Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue has been instrumental in educating the boating public and monitoring the area.
 
DFES Award Recognising Outstanding Personal Contribution by a VMRS Volunteer
Roger Martin, Vice Commander of the Volunteer Marine Rescue Association WA and Mandurah Water Rescue Group member
Through his dual roles, Roger Martin’s altruism benefits not just his local community, but each community in WA with a VMRS presence. He is present on a number of committees charged with implementing changes in emergency services legislation and is a staunch advocate for VMRS issues.
 
DFES Award for a VMRS Youth Volunteer or Group Contribution to the Development of Youth
Iesha Gaitskell, Carnarvon Volunteer Sea Rescue
Iesha Gaitskell has been an active member of Carnarvon Volunteer Sea Rescue since she took on the role of secretary four years ago. In that time she has obtained her radio licence, and assisted in a number of search and rescue missions. After receiving a mayday call on her home radio one night, she was integral to the quick response in which an elderly man and his son were found in the water, and both made a full recovery. 
 
VMRWA Award for Excellence in Group Operations
Volunteer Marine Rescue Shark Bay
The group was awarded for their valiant efforts during a sea rescue mission off the coast of Denham in September last year. Despite seas up to 10 metres and heavily reduced visibility, the crew acted swiftly and were able to recover four missing fishermen. Their courage and dedication in the face of perilous conditions, balanced with their commitment to safety and preparedness, make them worthy recipients.
 
VMRWA Commander’s Award
Albany Sea Rescue Squad
In a tourist area where many do not understand the risks of the ocean, Albany Sea Rescue Squad is called on to assist in more than their fair share of fishing tragedies. The group was awarded after a hazardous rescue of a man stranded on the cliffs at Cave Point. In a display of fine seamanship the squad manoeuvred their vessel close enough to the cliff face to collect the man, who made a full recovery.
 
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