Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Service notches state honour

Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Service commander Glenn Churchland with the Commander's Award certificate, won by the unit at the 2019 WA Fire and Emergency Services Awards. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Service commander Glenn Churchland with the Commander's Award certificate, won by the unit at the 2019 WA Fire and Emergency Services Awards. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

The Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Service took out the Commander's Award at the 2019 WA Fire and Emergency Services Awards.

The ceremony, held in Perth on September 7, saw individuals and groups across 14 categories recognised for their dedication, skill and bravery.

The local unit, which operates as a joint unit with Esperance SES, was chosen by Volunteer Marine Rescue WA commander Jeff Howe for its 'dedication to duty' and 'versatility'.

The team received particular acknowledgement for its help in tackling fires at Cape Le Grand National Park earlier this year.

Unit commander Glenn Churchland said marine services were not usually involved in bushfire efforts, but in this situation, the unit was called on to extract firefighters from the coast.

Mr Churchland said he and his team did not know they were in consideration for the honour and went "into uproar" when the award was announced.

"I've never been prouder of anybody for any achievement. The pride in my team was exhilarating," he said.

"Two years ago we were recognised as the best SES in the state, this year we've won this award. We've got a bloody good team."

Mr Churchland believes the unit's professionalism in working with other emergency services helped it win the award.

The unit was also nominated for the 'Outstanding Group Operations' award.

The local team was one of three across WA shortlisted, with the Shark Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue Service ultimately winning for their rescue of a man and his two young children stranded at sea.

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said all award recipients had demonstrated an outstanding contribution to keeping their fellow West Australians safe.

"Their achievements demonstrate selflessness, professionalism, compassion and, above all else, an unwavering commitment to protecting their communities," Mr Logan said.

"Volunteers play a vital role in responding to emergencies across our vast state, and I hope the admirable efforts of this year's recipients and finalists will inspire others to follow in their footsteps."

Mr Churchland said he hoped the unit's two nominations and one win would prompt other members of the community to consider joining.

With warmer weather arriving, the Esperance commander also encouraged boat users to ensure their boats were safe and that they had their lifejackets and operational radios with them. Mr Churchland also urged ocean users to be aware of the dangers of rock fishing.

To contact the Esperance Voluntary Marine Rescue Service call 0419 869 655.