Adjournment Debate – Bravery

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (19:58): It is with great pleasure that I rise to report on the activities of surf-lifesaving in the electorate of Hinkler, and in particular the actions of the chief instructor of the Bundaberg club, Martin Cole, during the 2013 natural disasters. In quite incredible circumstances, Mr Cole and two Queensland Fire and Rescue Service volunteers pulled off a dramatic rescue at night in the raging torrent of the Kolan River.

It is very important that I note how difficult these circumstances were. The rescue was conducted in the dark in an inshore rescue boat, which is designed for use in the surf. It contained the driver and the two QFRS operators. At the time they spent at least an hour searching for a family who were reported to be stranded on the roof of their home. This used to be on the banks of the Kolan River; however, at the time that they were discovered the water was lapping at the gutters and rising rapidly. Given that it was a night-time rescue, they had no support. They were on the northern side of the Bundaberg city, which was completely cut off. They had no support from mobile phone networks and all of the batteries had drained in the devices that they did have.

Once they loaded up the inshore rescue boat, which was low on fuel, they discovered that the additional load against the raging torrent of the Kolan River would not allow them to return to the area that they launched the vessel from. Consequently, they had to turn with the flow of the river—in the dark, with no moon, surrounded by floating containers, cows and lots of other debris—and head out to sea. Unfortunately, they found the Kolan River had broken its banks in two places to create three additional river mouths. This then allowed them to move into the surf and take the patients—one of whom was injured quite severely—onto the beach.

The SPEAKER: It being eight o’clock, the debate is interrupted. No doubt, you will have another opportunity to finish that very moving story.

House adjourned at 20:00

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