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  2. Specialist Rescue Vehicle to Be Removed from Hunter

Specialist Rescue Vehicle to Be Removed from Hunter

Media Releases

State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has called on the Government to reconsider its decision to remove the Major Structural Collapse/ Urban Search and Rescue Vehicle (USaR) from the Hunter next month.

The USaR Vehicle contains all the necessary equipment for rescuing deeply trapped people in building collapses from things such as earthquakes.

There are currently three vehicles stationed across NSW in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, but due to a decision by Fire + Rescue NSW the vehicles in Wollongong and Newcastle will be removed and not replaced.

The USaR Vehicle can respond anywhere in the state, to a wide variety of emergency situations. The last two major earthquakes in Australia, and the only earthquakes in Australia’s top 10 on the East Coast have occurred in the Lower Hunter Valley in the last 30 years, yet Fire + Rescue NSW currently intends to reduce to almost zero the response capability in this area.

Quotes attributable to Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery

“In the 1990’s, the Federal Government conducted a risk audit of possible needs in the USaR field in NSW and Newcastle and Wollongong were identified as areas that needed a response capability.”

“The Government funded specialist trucks and equipment that could be used to train specially qualified rescue operators and would be used when required to respond to an emergency.”

“The Government have now decided to remove the USaR Vehicles from Newcastle and Wollongong and have justified it by saying that a vehicle based in Sydney would be able to respond to an emergency in Newcastle within three hours.”

“If another major incident occurred, such as an earthquake, the arrival of the only USaR Vehicle left in the State and all its extra equipment and expertise would be a great relief to the onsite crews but because of the lack of equipment, the first responding local Fire + Rescue NSW and Ambulance Service NSW specialist USaR Rescue Technicians would not be unable to commence any rescue for people that are deeply trapped for several hours as they currently can.”

“This is unacceptable. The Government is intentionally reducing capabilities to a non-existent level for all areas outside of Sydney.”

“They must ensure the USaR Vehicle stays in the Hunter.”