On Monday morning (26/3), five of us (Guy, Stephan, Stu, Sandy and myself) set our alarms and got onto the water at 6am to paddle out into Currarong Bay. We had a rendezvous with Julian, a grade 3 paddler in our club and a SAR (search and rescue) helicopter pilot to run an exercise in testing various bits of emergency kit.
I had the pleasure of letting off 4 pencil flares, both ends of a day night flare, my own handheld smoke flare and lastly triggered my DSC distress signal on my VHF handset. Elsewhere in the group, we had several smoke flares, a 121MHz beacon, an eye-safe rescue laser, a large green dye packet and the helicopter dropped a long lasting (20 min) and self-scuttling, floating flare. Most of us were in contact with the local VMR and Julian in the helicopter via our VHF handsets.
It is vitally important to practice the tools of first resort, namely self rescue skills, assisted rescues and deep water re-entry skills, etc. However, it is equally valid I think that people practice using the tools of last resort…flares, distress signals and the like. And I’m really pleased we could assist in a small way to help train our local emergency personnel. The one disappointment for this exercise is that more people couldn’t join in.
Julian and his crew worked on located us with the homing signal from the beacon and visually spotting our flares. I wonder what a brightly buring flare looks like through night vision goggles from 4 klms away.
It was a great exercise and one I was keen to be a part of.