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Townsville SES volunteers take to the skies with AMSA

Thursday 6 March 2014
A group of State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers from the Townsville area will be trained in air search observation with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) this weekend (8-9 March 2014).
Media Release

Australia’s SES volunteers are often called on to undertake storm damage and land search operations, but they can also be called on to undertake search operations from the air.

Trained SES air search observers regularly assist the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in searches for missing aircraft, vessels or people in remote areas or at sea.

“Visual air searches are undertaken for aircraft, cars, vessels or people while flying at a relatively low altitude. SES observers play the essential role of looking for the target, which can often be very difficult to see,” AMSA Chief Executive Officer Graham Peachey said.

“Air observing is a demanding task, requiring intense concentration over extended periods of time,” Mr Peachey said.

To prepare SES volunteers for this task, AMSA regularly undertakes training courses across the country. This weekend, 24 volunteers from the Townsville area will undertake the training.

“The course involves some theory including the role of AMSA and distress beacon detection and then the volunteers are taken up in an aircraft. The training goes through what objects look like from different heights and then tests volunteers to spot an object, such as a buoy at sea,” Mr Peachey said.

“The training also covers what to do in case of an emergency at sea. We go through staying warm and staying together as a group in the water, and then we drop a life raft in and they have to inflate it.

Currently, more than 480 SES volunteers across 22 locations throughout Australia are trained as air search observers.

Air observers can be tasked to help in searches across the country as well as overseas, such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.

Media Note: Media are welcome to attend the training session on Saturday, 08 March 2014. The pool activities will take place at Tobruk Pool, The Strand, Townsville from 1.30pm.