After receiving the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) WA Award for Outstanding Group Operations in 2014, the Albany VMRS group has continued to demonstrate its dedication to marine search and rescue.
Covering the breathtaking but often treacherous coastline from west of Bremer Bay to east of Denmark, the group oversee a busy patch of the Southern Ocean as well as two rivers, two harbours and King George Sound.
The group has 40 active members, including boat crews as well as base radio operators, with many members wearing multiple hats.
They have three vessels, ranging from a 7.5 metre NIAID rigid hull inflatable boat which is used for events close to shore or on the river, through to an 11.5 metre fibreglass twin inboard diesel motor vessel which is utilised for incidents further out to sea. Rescue 1, an 8.5 metre NAIAD is the matriarch of the fast response fleet and is their principle rescue vessel.
Great Southern VMR Regional Commander and Secretary of Albany VMR Noel Francis said the group is kept busy due to a number of factors.
“The ocean along our rugged coastline is prone to large swells, as well as to notorious king waves that can wash people off the rocks in the blink of an eye,” Noel said.
“Added to this is the tendency for people in the area to be active in fishing and boating pursuits, and the way that the weather can sometimes come up quickly with little warning.
“We responded to 41 incidents last year and to 15 already so far this year.”
Deputy Commissioner Steve Fewster praised the volunteers for their passion and commitment.
“The Great Southern coast line is both beautiful and perilous in equal measure, which sadly has resulted in many people finding themselves in danger over the years,” Deputy Commissioner Fewster said.
“This year to date has been no different with a number of high profile searches in recent months, involving people who have either fallen or been swept off of rocks while sightseeing or fishing.
“The groups’ efforts in these instances have been extremely challenging for them both physically and emotionally, and they are to be commended.
Albany VMR celebrate their 41st year as a marine rescue group this year, marking four decades of protecting their community as well as visitors to the area.