A team of volunteers involved in rescuing a man and his children stranded at sea near Shark Bay have been recognised for their life-saving efforts, receiving the Award for Outstanding Group Operations at the 2019 Volunteer Marine Rescue Awards.
Shark Bay Marine Rescue was commended for its work retrieving a Perth man and his two sons off Steep Point in April this year, where the trio’s vessel had filled with water and drifted into open waters in fading daylight.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM congratulated this year’s winners and paid tribute to marine rescue volunteers across WA.
“Volunteer Marine Rescue groups are at the forefront of our response to emergencies at sea in WA, and make an invaluable contribution to life-saving operations,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“This year’s award finalists have displayed outstanding qualities in leadership, education and empathy for their community, and they deserve our recognition for their service to this State.”
Port Hedland Marine Rescue Commander Zac Slaughter was the recipient of the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award for his role in driving a five-fold increase in the group’s membership and rebuilding the unit to an outstanding standard through his exceptional leadership.
Nikki Russell from Cockburn Marine Rescue received the Award for Youth Achievement, with the 23-year-old’s leadership, support for fellow crew members, and work in promoting gender and age diversity within the volunteering industry noted by her peers.
The awards were presented at the 2019 WA Fire and Emergency Services Awards ceremony held in Perth last night.
The 2019 Volunteer Marine Rescue Awards recipients are:
Award for Outstanding Group Operations
Shark Bay Marine Rescue
In April 2019, Shark Bay was deployed to rescue a man and two children after their boat filled with water and submerged. The victims were left drifting in the ocean with their life jackets on. Using their knowledge of the local waters and strong working relationships with local police, the Shark Bay crew determined the likely drift pattern of the missing trio and spotted them within 10 minutes of beginning the search. They had begun drifting towards the cliffs at Steep Point, where there is nowhere to climb ashore, underlining the gravity of the situation. The group had planned ahead, with a canyon rope and rescue grenades ready to use. The canyon rope was used to help the victims get within reach and they were hauled aboard through the sea-door. The quick and efficient response helped achieve the best possible outcome for the missing family.
Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement
Zac Slaughter – Port Hedland Marine Rescue
Zac joined the group at the end of 2014, when the unit consisted of just four members. After just 12 months as a member, he took on the position of Commander, and continues to serve in the role today. Under Zac’s leadership, membership has increased by 500 per cent. The group now meets twice a month for regular training, and continued participation is monitored and managed for each member. Zac involves his members in Department of Transport Community Marine Safety Projects, has engaged with the local Yacht Club and Dive Shop to present on boating safety and takes every opportunity to apply for funding grants to develop the group’s capabilities.
Award for Youth Achievement
Nikki Russell – Cockburn Marine Rescue
Nikki joined the Cockburn Marine Rescue at the age of 22 and immediately made her mark, resulting in her being unanimously elected as a member of the management committee after only three months of service. Nikki plays a central role in supporting and mentoring new volunteers, which often includes people twice her age. In October 2018, she played an integral role in the search and recovery of the vessel ‘Yeah Buoy’ over three days. During this time, Nikki was assigned the role of crew welfare to ensure the deployed crew were mentally prepared. Nikki displayed her leadership, reliability, dependability and compassion by positioning herself as the liaison to get volunteers in contact with qualified personnel to talk to about their experience. The role Nikki played in this search displayed her teamwork skills and her passion for the safety of all Western Australians.
For more information about the Volunteer Marine Rescue Awards visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/awards
Media Contact: DFES Media and Corporate Communications 9395 9543