State Operations Group Updates

5 February 2024

Marine Rescue NSW continues to develop its On-Water flood rescue capability through progression of our Multi-Purpose Vessels (MPVs) and IRBs builds, and the recruitment and training of its State Operations Group (SOG) members.

To date, MRNSW has had 41 Members successfully complete the Perform land based swift water and flood water rescue and recovery course (PUASAR001) at Penrith White Water Stadium or an approved natural environment, with another 10 expected by the end of February.  There will be further opportunities for Members to undertake this course in coming months through to June, when courses will suspend over the winter months, recommencing in September.

In line with the State Rescue Board’s hierarchy of flood rescue response and training requirements, this course is required to be completed by all Land-based and On-Water Flood Rescue Operators (FRO).  It is therefore sometimes referred to by NSW SES as the ‘Land Based’ flood rescue course.  It is also commonly referred to as simply ‘Penrith’, though other courses such as the In-Water FRO are also conducted there.  

The Penrith course is but one of the requirements under State Rescue Policy to be deployed as an On-Water FRO.  All MPV and IRB operators (Crew and above) deployed into a flood operation will be trained to On-Water FRO level, and therefore need to undertake this once-off training. This training applies to all FROs regardless of which agency you belong to; MSW SES, NSW Police Force, Fire+Rescue NSW, RFS, etc 

Whilst the other components of SOG training continue to be refined, developed and rolled out, it is the ‘Penrith’ course that has generated most discussion, and raised some questions from interested Members and observers across our Units.

The main issues raised have been around the swimming ability and fitness level required to undertake the Penrith course and perform SOG duties, and just how physically and mentally challenging the course actually is. Questions like; Why are these assessments being introduced? Am I fit enough? Am I strong enough, Am I too old? Will I pass the course?

To place into context this course and its true value to SOG members, it should be appreciated that the operating environment for SOG members may see them performing many tasks of physical repetition or other challenges such as:

  • loading and unloading during resupply operations,
  • improvised launching and retrieving including winching, etc., of trailered vessels in challenging environments,
  • assisting evacuated persons or animals into and off vessels,  
  • recovering persons or animals from flood water (flood rescue), and if things go badly wrong,
  • self-rescuing from flood water.

It is this last point that, on risk assessment by NSWSES and State Rescue Board working groups, the Penrith course is designed to provide On-Water FRO’s the skills to deal with unexpectedly finding themselves in fast flowing flood water – always a potential risk when operating in such an environment.  

There is NO age limit for attending the Penrith flood rescue course, but there are minimum standards of fitness and swimming capability.  There is also a self-appraisal on physical suitability to ensure we do not place Members at unnecessary risk of physical injury. When undertaking any higher-level physical activity there is always the potential for injury. Everyone’s individual capacity to recover from physical injury – be it a strain or worse – is informed by many factors which includes their current medical and physical health & condition, their medical and injury history, and, their age.     

What can you expect the Penrith flood rescue course to look like? Check out this video.

To support our Members in making informed personal decisions on their suitability to undertake SOG training and duties, we have rolled out the SOG Fit-For-Role Self-Assessment Declaration, the SOG Fitness Assessment and the SOG Swim Test, all of which are prerequisites for SOG Members before attending Penrith or a natural environments flood rescue course, and may be found on Otter under MR Training>SOG. These measures also provide all Members – and their MR and external agency colleagues with whom they may deploy – an assurance that they can have the same expectation of other SOG members fit-for-role capability in any deployment they encounter, or be capable of self-rescue should the need arise.

To date, over 70 members and staff have successfully completed the Fitness Assessments and Swim Tests – some of whom are not SOG members – with many expressing the benefit of the assessments to their personal their health and fitness levels and regime.

Fitness Kits have been rolled out and are now located at key SOG asset locations across the state in coming weeks; your Zone staff will be across these locations, and they may be moved about between Units to support requests.  If you are interested in knowing more or undertaking the Fitness Assessments or Swim Test, or just learning more about SOG contact your Zone staff or Capability directly at capability@marinerescuensw.com.au

16 January 2024

MRNSW continues to develop its On-Water flood rescue capability through progression of our Multi-Purpose Vessels (MPVs) and IRBs builds, and the recruitment and training of its State Operations Group (SOG) members.

As of this Newsletter’s publication, MRNSW has had 41 Members successfully complete the Perform land based swift water and flood water rescue and recovery course (PUASAR001) at Penrith White Water Stadium or an approved natural environment, with another 10 expected by the end of February.  There will be further opportunities for Members to undertake this course in coming months through to June, when courses will suspend over the winter months, recommencing in September.

In line with the State Rescue Board’s hierarchy of flood rescue response and training requirements, this course is required to be completed by all Land-based and On-Water Flood Rescue Operators (FRO).  It is therefore sometimes referred to by NSW SES as the ‘Land Based’ flood rescue course.  It is also commonly referred to as simply ‘Penrith’, though other courses such as the In-Water FRO are also conducted there.  

The Penrith course is but one of the requirements under State Rescue Policy to be deployed as an On-Water FRO.  All MPV and IRB operators (Crew and above) deployed into a flood operation will be trained to On-Water FRO level, and therefore need to undertake this once-off training. This training applies to all FROs regardless of which agency you belong to; MSW SES, NSW Police Force, Fire+Rescue NSW, RFS, etc.  

Whilst the other components of SOG training continue to be refined, developed and rolled out, it is the ‘Penrith’ course that has generated most discussion, and raised some questions from interested Members and observers across our Units.

The main issues raised have been around the swimming ability and fitness level required to undertake the Penrith course and perform SOG duties, and just how physically and mentally challenging the course actually is. Questions like; Why are these assessments being introduced? Am I fit enough? Am I strong enough, Am I too old? Will I pass the course?

To place into context this course and its true value to SOG members, it should be appreciated that the operating environment for SOG members may see them performing many tasks of physical repetition or other challenges such as:

  • loading and unloading during resupply operations,
  • improvised launching and retrieving including winching, etc., of trailered vessels in challenging environments,
  • assisting evacuated persons or animals into and off vessels,  
  • recovering persons or animals from flood water (flood rescue), and if things go badly wrong,
  • self-rescuing from flood water.

It is this last point that, on risk assessment by NSWSES and State Rescue Board working groups, the Penrith course is designed to provide On-Water FRO’s the skills to deal with unexpectedly finding themselves in fast flowing flood water – always a potential risk when operating in such an environment.  

There is NO age limit for attending the Penrith flood rescue course, but there are minimum standards of fitness and swimming capability.  There is also a self-appraisal on physical suitability to ensure we do not place Members at unnecessary risk of physical injury. When undertaking any higher-level physical activity there is always the potential for injury. Everyone’s individual capacity to recover from physical injury – be it a strain or worse – is informed by many factors which includes their current medical and physical health & condition, their medical and injury history, and, their age.     

To support our Members in making informed personal decisions on their suitability to undertake SOG training and duties, we have rolled out the SOG Fit-For-Role Self-Assessment Declaration, the SOG Fitness Assessment and the SOG Swim Test, all of which are prerequisites for SOG Members before attending Penrith or a natural environments flood rescue course. These measures also provide all Members – and their MR and external agency colleagues with whom they may deploy – an assurance that they can have the same expectation of other SOG members fit-for-role capability in any deployment they encounter, or be capable of self-rescue should the need arise.

To date, over 70 members and staff have successfully completed the Fitness Assessments and Swim Tests – some of whom are not SOG members – with many expressing the benefit of the assessments to their personal their health and fitness levels and regime.

Fitness Kits will be located at key SOG asset locations across the state in coming weeks; your Zone staff will be across these locations, and they may be moved about between Units to support requests.  If you are interested in knowing more or undertaking the Fitness Assessments or Swim Test, or just learning more about SOG contact your Zone staff or Capability directly at capability@marinerescuensw.com.au