Emergency services personnel who assisted in a rescue in 2018 of two people trapped in a car in floodwaters were recognised at an awards presentation at Wingham Memorial Services Club on Saturday, February 20, 2021.
On Tuesday, March 16, 2018, the NSW SES Wingham Unit deployed personnel to the Bobin/Kippax areas in response to heavy rainfall in the upper catchment of the Manning River along Dingo Creek. Heavy rainfall in the area was causing tributaries to rise and a number of low-lying causeways, bridges and roads were being flooded.
The area is remote, and communications are patchy prompting the Wingham Unit to establish a Forward Command Post at the Bobin Hall.
That afternoon a car with two occupants attempted to cross the Gunyah Road Causeway on Dingo Creek at Bobin. At this time the causeway had approximately 900 millimetres of fast flowing water moving over its surface. As the vehicle moved across the causeway it was picked up by the water, lost traction and was swept to the edge of the causeway. The front of the vehicle was caught on the downstream lip of the causeway with the rear of the vehicle perpendicular into the deep main flow of the creek.
The driver alighted from her seat and attempted to exit the vehicle on foot. She stumbled and was swept off the causeway into the fast flowing and turbulent water washing her approximately 100 metres downstream. She was able to make her way to the bank and pull herself from the water and notify emergency services.
The driver's elderly mother, who was incapacitated, remained trapped in the rear seat of the vehicle with water now entering the inside and rising.
The driver made her way from the creek onto the Gunyah Road. At this time, the SES Wingham Unit controller Gary Greene was making his way along the Bulga Road Bobin to rendezvous with SES personnel. He was notified of the situation and was redirected to the Gunyah Road. As he entered the Gunyah Road he was flagged down by the driver of the vehicle and was directed down to the causeway, apprised of the circumstances and alerted to the presence of the elderly occupant still trapped in the vehicle.
NSW SES notified other emergency services and they were activated to the location. Police, SES, RFS, VRA and NSW Ambulance personnel mustered at the staging point on the western side of the causeway.
NSW SES briefed personnel as they arrived establishing control of the situation and liaising with Police. Initial action was to secure a line to the vehicle to prevent it being washed from the causeway. Proximity of power lines prevented the use of a helicopter, the creek expanse prevented a high line and the fast-flowing turbulent water prevented the use of boats or Ark Angel rafts.
After consultation with the services present and completion a high clearance vehicle was manoeuvred into position on the western bank to set up an anchor point to pendulum an operator into position to secure the vehicle with a rope. Upstream and downstream safety personnel were put in place.
Gary Greene secured a rope to the anchor vehicle and with the assistance of other personnel secured a rope to himself. He was then lowered into the water and with the assistance of line haulers made his way to the vehicle along the causeway and secured a rope to the underside of the trapped vehicle.
In an example of textbook interagency co-operation, the vehicle and its occupant were secured and safely removed from harm's way.
"This operation was testament to the professionalism and capability of the emergency services in the Manning Valley," Tony Day, deputy zone commander Northern Zone Mid North Coast Command said at the presentation.
"It was a credit to all personnel involved and it is my honour to recognise their work today - and thank them for putting service above self."
Recipients of the NSW SES Commissioner's Unit Citation for actions in the successful rescue of the occupant of a motor vehicle trapped in flood waters at Dingo Creek
- Garry Greene
- George Sheldon
- David Edmond
- Ken Cameron
- Peter Adams
- Terry Gould
- Allan Sheldon
Recipients of NSW SES Certificates of Appreciation for personnel who provided outstanding support in the conduct of the rescue
- Allan Moore
- Rod Beckham
- Arthur Southwell
- John de Gray Birch
- Josh Goulden
- Khyal Gordon
- Matthew King
- Jason Brooks
- Leading Senior Constable Greg Bartolo - apology
- Senior Constable Murray Dawes
- Senior Constable Dave Matthews - apology
- Senior Constable Jared Bendiech
- Mathew Ruff (Operations Control Wingham Command)
- Jessica Murray (Operations Control Wingham Command)
- Terry Whatson (Field Support)
- Rochelle Fowler (Field Support)
- Lindsay Ellison (Field Support)
- John Usbach (Field Support)
- Terry Spinks (Field Support)
- Larry Thompson (Communications)
- Graham Ruff (Communications)