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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Bruns rescue crew equipped with new Zodiac

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Brunswick Marine Rescue Unit Commander, Jonathan Wilcock, with Wayne Lewis at the tiller. Photo Jeff ‘Needing Rescue Since 1986’ Dawson.

Marine Rescue Brunswick has become the first service in NSW to receive a new type of inflatable boat designed to undertake flood rescues in difficult conditions.

The French-made Zodiac inflatable was specifically chosen to cope with the kind of rapidly changing conditions experienced during last year’s floods.

It was received by Unit Commander, Jonathan Wilcock, and the rest of the team last week.

‘Until the floods last year, Marine Rescue didn’t play a big role in that type of rescue work, so since then we’ve been looking at what we need to do to help in that area and to step up our game,’ Mr Wilcock said.

Floods recede quickly 

‘One thing we learned about the Byron Shire and even Lismore during the floods was that the waters come up very quickly and go down quite quickly, compared with the type of flooding they’re experiencing in inland NSW at the moment,’ Mr Wilcock said.

‘That was one of the factors we looked at in choosing this type of boat. We also looked at being able to respond to areas where it can take a little bit of time to get to and potentially be hard to access, so mobility was important.’

Zodiac is fully mobile

The new Zodiac is fully mobile, with the capacity to be packed down into a team cricket bag and then inflated quickly for rapid deployment.

‘You can put it in the back of a car, or on a plane, and then get it in the water pretty quickly when you get to the destination.’

The speed of inflation is increased by a built-in scuba tank which can fill the vessel’s six separate inflatable compartments within minutes.

The separate compartments mean that the boat can continue to function even with multiple punctures suffered during swift water river rescues where tree branches and other types of debris are a hazard.

The significant cost of the new boat was completely covered by the James Frizelle Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by the former car dealership owner of the same name.

It is now hoped that a new round of Emergency Services funding announced by the state government will be used to roll the vessels out across the rest of the state.

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