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Stormy Flotation Grenade Aids Marine Rescue Award


The recipients of the 2010 National Search and Rescue Award are Bob Kent and David Dodge from Esperance, Western Australia.

The award was presented last week in Darwin as part of the 34th Annual Meeting of the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Council.

The Council is chaired by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA ) General Manager Emergency Response Division, and has a permanent membership of senior members from State and Territory Police Services and the Australian Defence Force.

Bob, the owner and pilot of Esperance Helitours Helicopters, and David, a local SES volunteer, assisted in the rescue of two people off the coast of Esperance in August 2009. Father and son, Dan and Mark Scullin, were thrown into the water approximately two kilometres offshore when a king wave capsized their boat.

Bob and David were tasked by AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre to provide assistance after the Scullins’ 406 MHz distress beacon was detected.

The rescue was notable in that it was the first time the local SES had used flotation grenades, which provided vital extra buoyancy to the two men in the water.

“They were lucky they had the 406 , we found them quickly, we got them extra buoyancy with the flotation grenade, we dropped them a drink of water and just encouraged them to keep swimming and directed them to the right way to go,” Bob said.

After landing the helicopter on the beach, Bob and David entered the water to assist the Scullins and also removed their own clothing to support the men who were suffering from hypothermia.

While honoured to have received the award, Bob and David acknowledged that the rescue was a team effort.

“We feel very honoured, but we must remember there are a lot of people in the background who helped out and didn’t see the glory.

“We had a couple of boat crews, George Barnes at the SES base managing communications, ambulance officers who attended to the two men and the SES crew in the four wheel drive,” David said.

In choosing Bob and David as the winners of the 2010 award, the National Search and Rescue Council acknowledges the exceptional achievement of the men, and recognises the work of the local authorities that provided assistance in the rescue.

The Council noted that the Scullins were well equipped to send a message of distress. Their GPS equipped 406 MHz distress beacon  was a key factor in identifying an exact location, enabling the Rescue Coordination Centre to send Mr Kent and Mr Dodge to assist the Scullins very quickly.

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