February 4 - 10, 2024: Issue 612


2024 edition of Who Let The Boats Out? NSW SES Training Exercise makes a big splash across our state - Warringah/Pittwater + Manly Units take part

Photo: NSW SES

More than 750 emergency service personnel took to waterways across the state on Saturday February 3 for the NSW State Emergency Service’s (SES) annual flood boat training exercise, including local units NSW SES Warringah / Pittwater Unit and NSW SES Manly Unit.  

Who Let The Boats Out is a multi-agency flood boat exercise, designed to strengthen core skills for on-water flood rescue and flood support operations. 

Led by the NSW SES as the lead agency for flood rescue in the state, the training exercise is now in its fourth year and is the largest simultaneous boating exercise in Australia.  

It involves over 185 vessels from NSW SES, NSW Police, VRA Rescue NSW, Surf Life Saving, Marine Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Maritime, and the ACT SES.    

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin said these training exercises provided essential on-water opportunities for SES personnel, especially in regional areas.

“Training means we're better prepared, and this benefits both emergency response personnel and the communities they are helping keep safe.” Ms Saffin said.

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York APM said participants practiced core flood boat skills such as manoeuvring, launching and docking vessels, search and rescue, recovering persons overboard, radio communications, troubleshooting boats, fire drills and navigation. 

“We have had flood rescue and flood support boats out this morning on Sydney Harbour and the Georges Rivers, right up north to the Tweed River, out to Broken Hill and down south to the Murray River,” Commissioner York said.  

“It’s a great opportunity for all agencies to exchange on-water expertise, so when there is an emergency, we can respond side by side with knowledge of each other's capabilities.  

“This exercise also gives participants an opportunity to further familiarise themselves with their local waterways, enhancing their operational effectiveness.”  

Marine Rescue NSW stated: 

Around 50 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers participated in the NSW SES Who Let The Boats Out flood boat exercise. Today's exercise is a valuable opportunity for our volunteers to train alongside other emergency service organisations and further enhance their knowledge and skills. Thank you NSW SES for inviting us to be involved in this fantastic event.

In 2023, NSW SES volunteers responded to 197 flood rescue incidents, some of which required the skills being practised in this exercise.   

Off the water, members of the incident management team also experienced a simulated high-pressure environment, similar to operational conditions where they may need to manage hundreds of flood rescue incidents per hour.  

The NSW SES Warringah / Pittwater Unit had fun whilst training for something very serious. Flood rescues require members who are skilled as well as timely in the use of those skills.

At 6.30am the Incident Management Team began work tasking a range of jobs to nearly 200 boats across the state from a range of agencies including SES, Maritime, RFS and Marine Rescue. 

Skills practised included how to change a prop, retrieving a body, and rescuing a passenger from a car stranded in water. Teams had ‘emergencies’ sent to them where they had to locate a missing person and administer appropriate first aid.

The Incident Management Team start to arrive 6.30am. Photo: NSW SES Warringah / Pittwater Unit

Are the safety checks complete? Let’s go! Photo: NSW SES Warringah / Pittwater Unit

Retrieving an item from water. Photo: NSW SES Warringah / Pittwater Unit

The NSW SES Manly Unit had a great time participating in Who Let The Boats Out - they launched their boat at Davidson Park, Roseville and performed exercises with Marine Rescue NSW on Middle Harbour.

NSW SES Manly Unit Members have also been completing flood rescue training in January at Penrith Whitewater. 

Purpose built for Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Stadium was the venue for canoe/kayak slalom events. 

Today is still hosts events, such as the 2024 Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships in January 2024. The venue has now been confirmed as the competition venue for the 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

Penrith Whitewater is used as a training facility by the NSW SES.

On Sunday, February 4 2024, 26 NSW SES Manly Unit members joined NSW SES units from all over Sydney in a marine-based tsunami response exercise. 

The aim was to provide intel for our emergency plan - what will work, what won’t and how long will it take, considering in reality we may have as little as 90 minutes to clear the beaches and foreshores. 

The outcome? We learnt a lot…which we will incorporate into our local response plan for the (unlikely) event of a tsunami.

Photos: NSW SES Manly Unit 

For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500. In life threatening situations, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Join The NSW SES

NSW SES is a volunteer-based organisation that works with communities to prepare and respond to severe weather events.

NSW SES are the lead agency for flood, storm and tsunami in NSW. They manage responses to these emergencies and help communities prepare through planning and education.

NSW SES volunteers come from all walks of life, bringing with them many different skills, interests and backgrounds. They are united by the purpose of supporting their communities in times of need.

There are four ways to volunteer with NSW SES:

  1. Unit Volunteer: See yourself in orange as a volunteer with one of our 260 NSW SES Units.
  2. Community Action Team Volunteer: Take action to help prepare your community for floods and storms.
  3. Corporate Volunteer: Get your workplace or organisation involved as a volunteering partner with the NSW SES.
  4. Spontaneous Volunteers: Support your community during times of need.

Volunteers can join the NSW SES at ages 16 and 17 but must complete a Parent and Guardian Consent form at the time of joining.

Volunteers aged under 18 can still participate in most NSW SES activities but cannot attend incidents which may involve trauma, such as Road Crash Rescue.

Learn more about NSW SES Unit Volunteer roles and become a volunteer with NSW SES here: www.ses.nsw.gov.au/volunteer

Photos: NSW SES