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Police helicopter officer nails three difficult rescues in Tasmania's wilderness in first week

By Adam Langenberg, Wednesday April 14, 2021 - 23:01 AEST
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Constable Bryan Powell was involved in three rescues in a matter of hours. - ABC

Constable Bryan Powell had to call on every bit of his helicopter rescue training during his first week on the job.

Constable Powell and his supervisor Sergeant Matthew Drumm conducted three rescues in a matter of hours ? as part of Tasmania's Westpac rescue helicopter team.

They rescued two groups of walkers, who had encountered difficult weather conditions, from the Castle Mountain area, and a 17-year-old boy who had injured his knee at Windemere Hut.

The day ended up being much more frantic than Constable Powell had expected.

"I was expecting to go up and do an easy landing at one of the huts and maybe a transport to a hospital, and it turned into the three rescues," he said.

"Monday's winching and hover entries were pretty much my whole eight-week training rolled into one day."

Constable Powell said all rescued groups were cold, wet, hungry, and extremely grateful to be out of the treacherous weather conditions. 

After 15 years in the force, Constable Powell joined the rescue helicopter service, finishing his training in December last year.

"I've always been an adventurous person so the helicopter, to me, provides adventure, and I do like to help people that are in need," he said.

Adventurers urged to be prepared

Sergeant Drumm has been part of the rescue helicopter team for 16 years and said the message remained the same for walkers and adventurers as winter approached: Be prepared.

He said the two groups rescued on Monday had taken all the right gear with them, including a registered personal locator beacon. 

But he said some groups go out without preparing correctly for the elements.

"One of the things in Tassie is that it's Tassie, and to say that you've looked at the forecast and it suggests fine weather, we all know that can turn within a few days and turn quite nasty for people," Sergeant Drumm said.

Couple rescued from Lake St Clair

On Tuesday, the helicopter was sent out to rescue two walkers aged in their 60s, who had completed the Overland Track, from Lake St Clair.

The couple were kayaking to the visitors' centre but could not reach it due to adverse weather conditions, opting to set off their personal locator beacon.

The helicopter was unable to land due to the extreme weather, but police search and rescue officers and an Ambulance Tasmania wilderness paramedic reached the couple about midnight.


© ABC 2021

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