Greater access to resources for emergency response teams in the Far West will benefit rescue efforts stakeholders say.
Utilisation of equipment in towns like Menindee is desperately needed to help plan and deal with disasters.
With the town’s State Emergency Service (SES) unit currently offline, making use of existing facilities is now the goal.
Menidee resident and former SES volunteer, Graeme McCrabb, believes a centralised response unit is the way forward in emergency management for the town.
“There needs to be one agency,” he said. “The model of having SES and RFS (Rural Fire Service) in the same small community doesn’t seem to work.”
Mr McCrabb is one of the advocates pushing for the community to gain access to two flood boats, a patrol vehicle and a sand bagging machine that are idle in the local SES storage facility.
He wants work to commence in preparation for potential flood events and seeks answers on whether the equipment can be made available.
“I’m one of the many people in the town concerned about it,” Mr McCrabb said. “There’s not enough happening at the moment.”
The RFS unit in Menindee have reportedly grown to 30 volunteer members and currently provides services to the area.
Member for Barwon, Roy Butler, would also like to see more cross over in equipment for first responders who are qualified to operate them.
“It would be nice to think you could have both SES and RFS,” he said. “If they can be more flexible with assets that will help.”
Mr Butler has had ongoing communication with the SES and NSW Minister Emergency Services David Elliot to discuss current challenges like training to help develop long term strategies.
He believes it is “incredibly important” to have functioning units that are properly resourced in regional and rural communities.
“Once you’re outside major cities, everything is a long way away,” Mr Butler said.
“If you don’t have those volunteer emergency services on the ground it could cost somebody their life.”
The NSW State Emergency Service said resources can be deployed to Menindee from nearby areas if required.
“The service does have a unit and resources in Menindee,” a spokesperson said.
“However, it is currently offline while active recruitment is underway to bring in more members.
“The area is supported by neighbouring units and more resources can be allocated to the area as needed.”
SES has several local units in western NSW including Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cobar, Euabalong, Goodooga, Ivanhoe, Packsaddle, Tibooburra, White Cliffs and Wilcannia.
The organisation will continue to welcome new volunteers and continue work alongside other emergency services when performing major operations.
“While we are the lead combat agency for storms and floods, we work very closely with other emergency services to support the needs of the community, just as they do for us,” SES spokesperson said.
“We are always accepting new members, and anyone wanting to volunteer is welcome to apply.
“Appropriate training and equipment are provided to anyone joining NSW SES so they can support their local community.”