VMR 466

Queensland’s Fraser Coast is a boaties' paradise. It features sheltered waters, creeks, rivers, beaches, fishing, wildlife, lovely towns, incredible Fraser Island and more. For these reasons, it comes as no surprise that boating is such a popular activity amongst the many Hyne employees who live in the Wide Bay region. Yes, it's a paradise, but you can see how fast things can go wrong in this mobile phone footage shot in October 2018.

The role VMR plays here isn’t limited to helping boaties with fuel trouble, mechanical breakdowns, battery failures and even sinkings.

We chatted to Jill Barclay the Vice Commodore of Marine Rescue Hervey Bay.

Who are you and what do you do for boaties?
JILL: “Our core role is safety of life at sea, and to assist emergency services. We exist for search and rescue and emergency missions. These are coordinated by the Water Police. We receive funding from the Queensland Government to do search and rescues. Queensland Ambulance Service pays for the fuel we use during medical evacuations.” 

What “geographic” area do you look after?
JILL: “Our range is to the top of Fraser, and inside of Fraser – all the way down to Garry’s Anchorage.”

How do we reach you?
JILL: “Our radio room operates from 6.00 am – 6.00 pm on VHF channels 16, 67, 73 or 22 or on 27 MHz channels 88 and 91.”

In addition to rescuing boaties; what else do you do?
JILL: “25-30% of our work is medical evacuations from Fraser Island, and from boats in the area. Incidents on Fraser Island can include any medical condition from burns, sprains, breaks and bites to cardiac arrests. About 5% of our work is for the Police in the way of searches or incidents at sea. We also conduct scattering of ashes services for families.”

When are your services most in demand?
JILL: “Generally the summer months, when more people are out on the water and when the weather can turn nasty faster.”

Boat VS Emergency services chopper? Which is better?
JILL: “When it comes to medical evacuations, boats are more available in severe weather – when the wind is too high for the chopper. In the case where the Careflight or Emergency Services Queensland Choppers cannot fly, we are the backup.  The helicopters undertake the more serious medical emergencies and marine rescue completes those less serious that still require treatment at hospital. The ambulance parks out the front of the base and a paramedic comes with us. We currently have volunteer First Responders who are trained above the normal level of first aid, with six more in training. These volunteer First Responders assist Queensland Ambulance and accompany patients from Fraser Island. They’re licensed to use limited drugs. About 80% of medical evacuation calls happen at night and it’s usually a 2.5 to 3-hour round trip.”

How do you keep track of who is out on the water?
JILL: “We have a radio log system. They log on, give us their details: vessel name, people on board, where they are going and what time they will be back. But only 1 in 10 boaties logs on. We recommend they do because if we don’t know you’re there we can’t look out for you!

We’ve got lots more to share about Marine Rescue Hervey Bay. Make sure you read the next issue of The Cut and stay tuned to our social media channels.