Five years ago Port Hedland Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) was in dire times, close to shutting down after a mass exodus of members as people moved out of town.
Thanks to the relentless determination and leadership of current Commander Zac Slaughter, the group has been completely rebuilt and provides a timely and effective service to the community.
Shortly after joining the group Zac found himself elevated to the role of Commander as there were very few volunteers remaining in the group.
He set to work rebuilding Port Hedland VMR , starting with recruiting and training friends to boost numbers and enabling them to crew a boat, as well as refurbishing their boats and truck to ensure they could efficiently respond to call outs.
“We did some refits on a lot of the vessels and started up pretty regular training sessions for all the members so they could get out and learn about the vessels and learn the procedures for how to undertake different rescue scenarios,” Zac said.
“We started receiving rescue calls and were going out helping the community and slowly, one by one, more people started joining.”
Since 2013 Port Hedland VMR’s membership has been steadily growing and in the past five years the number of incidents they attend has increased by an amazing 820 per cent.
The incidents they attend are varied and recently a particularly busy week included involvement in the search and rescue efforts for helicopter crash that occurred 20 nautical miles offshore, recovery of a jet ski from an abandoned mine quarry, and a flare sighting down the coast.
The transient nature of the workforce in Port Hedland does present challenges however the group has a strong core of dedicated members from the local community and they describe themselves as being more like family.
DFES Manager Marine Service Mark Eatts said the group had worked hard to turn their fortunes around and were a valuable resource to their community.
“Port Hedland are an extremely capable group with a lot of experience and involvement from engaged leaders,” he said.
“They continue to raise the bar in volunteer marine rescue and it is fantastic to witness the growth of the group.”
For more information and how you can become a volunteer visit the Volunteer Marine Rescue page on the DFES website.