“A huge shout out to all our wonderful emergency service volunteers who give of their time not just at Christmas but all year round. We are totally indebted to the work you all do, much of which takes place in remote areas or far away from the public eye. The contribution and service you provide to your community is outstanding and from the bottom of our hearts, we say THANK YOU.”
The Christmas/New Year period is always a busy time for our emergency services and volunteers, and this year was no exception.
While most of us were celebrating with our family and friends these tireless volunteers were out there working to protect us and keep us safe.
This year’s dry conditions have been a nightmare for our volunteer fire fighters, who have had several fires to contend with in the Clarence Valley.
During New Years eve and New Year’s day while most of us were finding somewhere to stay cool from the soaring temperatures, our Rural Fire Service (RFS) were doing their best to contain a fire at Taloumbi that threatened to spread to nearby private properties.
Over the two day period the RFS plane Bomber 218 spent hours drawing water from the Clarence River at Maclean, in an effort to contain the fire.
RFS operations officer Steve Ellem said that the Grasstree Drive, fire at Taloumbi started at midnight on December 30, under suspicious circumstances.
The fire which was contained on January 2 involved 15 fire fighters and five to seven fire brigade trucks. The Bomber 218 plane used 90,000 litres of water on New Year’s eve with a total of 120,000 litres all up on the fire.
Coutts Crossing fire
Mr Ellem said that the Rockview fire at Coutts Crossing had started from a lightning strike.
“The RFS started working on the fire on December 27 and worked through to until January 1,” said Mr Ellem.
“We had between 7-10 trucks working and 15-25 fire fighters and utilized the Bomber Fire Boss Air Tractor.
“The aircraft was used on December 29 and 30 and delivered a total of 300,000 litres of water to the fire, from nearby Shannon Creek Dam.
“The fire is still on the books although it has been contained and the rain which we have received since January 2 has reduced the threat of a flare up.”
A dozer which was contracted by RFS, suffered fire damage during the exercise. The contracting officer received burns whilst attempting to extinguish the fire and had to be treated for minor burns at Grafton Base Hospital, before being released.
Surf Lifesaving Far
North Coast branch
Director of Lifesaving, Chris Samuels said that although the beaches were quite busy over the Christmas/New Year period, rescues were down, which was good.
“We had additional lifeguards on duty on Turners Beach, Pippi Beach and Main Beach,” said Mr Samuels.
“First aid cases – we had nothing significant apart from a few scratches from rocks and blue bottle stings.
“Our preventative actions were up (educating surfers regarding beach conditions and rips etc) which is a positive.
“The public need to be aware that beach conditions can change quickly.”
There were unfortunately two drownings, at Wooli and Yamba over the Christmas/New Year period.
NSW State Emergency
Service (SES) – Clarence – Nambucca Region
Region controller, Caroline Ortel said that the SES was fairly quiet during the Christmas/New Year period and only a few calls for help in relation to storms.
“We had major storm warnings out, but luckily we only received five calls”, said Ms Ortel.
“We were busier than normal however, with our support for other services.
“Our road crash people were busy and probably our busiest unit was the ‘community first responder’ unit who work with ambulance, out at Wooli.
“There’s no doctor or ambulance out there. It takes 45 minutes or more for an ambulance to come from either Grafton or Woolgoolga. The unit are given a lot of support from Ambulance NSW.
“They were very busy out there.
“They usually average one call out per week and between Christmas and New Year, they received seven.
“The Clarence Valley SES saw 21 jobs between December 24 and New Years Day, most of these were for support with other agencies.
“Only three storm jobs were recorded in the Clarence Valley.”
The SES receives all their storm and flood warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), who have just released an app for smart phones.
“It’s a government app which is an easy app to manage and will help to increase awareness so that people can be more prepared for such events.”
Inspector Joanne Reid Coffs/Clarence LAC reported that overall Police were very happy with the behaviour of revellers in the Clarence Valley on New Year’s Eve.
The following came under notice at Brooms Head:
20 year old man issued a court attendance notice for refusing a direction to move on and resist arrest.
24 year old Brooms Head female was issued a court attendance notice for refusing a direction to move on and possess prohibited drug.
31 year old Ashby man issued infringement notice for offensive language.
24 year old James Creek man issued infringement notice for offensive behaviour.
And in Iluka, 19-year-old man was charged with enter enclosed lands, assault police and resist arrest.
Between Christmas Eve and New Years Day five people were detected for drink driving offences. Police were on the roads in numbers during the Operation Safe Arrival which ran from December 16 to January 2, however tragically a 12 year old boy died in a motor vehicle collision at Tyndale.
On Sunday, January 8, a 66 year-old-male who appears to have suffered a medical emergency, collided with a large tree on Wooli Road at Pillar Valley. Witnesses stopped and assisted with first aid and CPR before emergency services arrived. He is now deceased and a brief is being prepared for the coroner.
Two males also lost their lives in separate drowning incidents (Wooli and Yamba).