Esperance crew win 2017 Australian Search and rescue Award

The rescue crew that winched an injured fisherman to safety has been recognised at this year’s Australian Search and Rescue Awards.

WA Department of Fire and Emergency Service RAC Rescue helicopter 651 crew took out the commendation award for their operation in Israelite Bay last November.

The crew battled 90 km/h winds and fading light to winch a cray fisherman, with life-threatening injuries, to safety.

Following a triple zero call and communications with West Australian police, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority tasked the rescue helicopter and its crew from Perth about 1 pm.

At the time of the rescue, the fishing vessel was located about 600km away in Israelite Bay, being buffeted by four-to-five-metre seas and winds of up to 30 knots.

The patient, who was also the master of the fishing vessel, had sustained a life-threatening injury. The only other crew member on board was administering first aid and attempting to navigate the vessel in treacherous conditions.

The RAC crew battled 90kph winds and fading light to winch the patient off the vessel about 6.30pm.

With the nearest major trauma centre more than 250km away, the Safety Authority arranged a refuelling stop for the helicopter in Condingup, about 60km east of Esperance.

A tractor and a trailer with fuel met the helicopter in a paddock at 7.20 pm.

The patient was stabilised at Esperance Hospital at 9.20 pm, and later transferred by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Royal Perth Hospital for further medical treatment.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority chief executive officer and National Search and Rescue Council chair Mick Kinley said the courage shown by this year’s recipients was worthy of national recognition.

“These brave men came to the rescue of strangers without hesitation,” Mr Kinley said.

Nominations for the annual search and rescue awards can be submitted directly to the National Search and Rescue Council website.

The council’s members include the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Australian Defence Force, federal, state and territory police.