Thursday, 20 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Report from KSAR on latest activites

It’s amazing how quickly a day out surfcasting up north with your wife can suddenly turn to custard in the same way so many of our emergency service volunteers suddenly have their plans halted by the sound of a siren, a pager or a cell phone.

A call from the Waikato Police Search and Rescue squad on Sunday 19 August had Kuaotunu Land SAR tasked to Motutere (Castle Rock) in response to the sudden death of a young woman who had fallen 120m while abseiling. Emergency services were already in attendance, including Coromandel Town police, Coromandel Fire Rescue, an Auckland and Coromandel Westpac Rescue Helicopter and St John, giving what assistance they could to the victim Kimi Worrell and her partner Richard Graham.

The rescue helicopter had winched a paramedic down to the victim, but the thick bush, difficult terrain and proximity to the rock face of Motutere meant that the only way to extract Kimi’s body was by stretcher-carry out to the road. Coromandel Fire Rescue and the rescue helicopter were stood down as there was going to be a considerable delay while police detectives and SAR squad members travelled to the scene and completed an investigation into the incident.

It was quite serene looking out from below Motutere to the lone pinnacle only 100m away where the body of Shannon Mako was located just two months earlier and once again KSAR was tasked to remove the body of another young person who had fallen while enjoying an activity that they relished. This wasn’t an easy stretcher-carry as the route back to the track was steep, narrow and slippery, so the stretcher was mostly manoeuvred by ropes and balanced to slide over the rocks and muddy surface. Once back at the road, the police and KSAR members loaded Kimi into a hearse at the exact same location where Shannon was farewelled two months earlier.

The incident is now the subject of a coroner’s report. Motutere has been a focal point for KSAR with four search and rescue operations and two body recoveries in the past few years.

Our training this month was well attended with three new members welcomed to the KSAR team. We focused on setting up a forward base (incident control point) in a remote location using a linking repeater that was on trial from New Zealand Land SAR and stretcher-carry training using an injured “victim” on a narrow, slippery track (thanks to the Whitianga Bike Park). Our members have also brought along their 24-hour packs to share ideas on gear, equipment and clothing to ensure everyone was also able to provide for the welfare and health of a lost person in an isolated, wet and cold environment.

We have been pleased to have two more new members join us recently from the Coromandel Town side of the Peninsula as this provides us with an improved capability to respond to search and rescue operations in that area. We welcome Dave Hamond who is an extremely experienced bushman from Manaia who has now qualified to join our first response team along with Tammy Greig and Roimata Taimana.

The KSAR committee is currently considering the purchase of new equipment and clothing that will enable both our incident management team and the first response team to be more effective when tasked to respond to the needs of a lost or injured person in remote locations. Our decision to re-equip our trailer as a forward base unit has been a successful investment and we will continue to improve on the needs of our searchers and management in line with funding.

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