Exercise ‘Rock Fishing’ Bar Beach, Newcastle, NSW

A major emergency management exercise will be conducted at Bar Beach, Newcastle, to test a multi-agency response to a rock rescue, NSW Police say.

More than 90 personnel will participate in the exercise which will include representatives from Westpac Rescue Helicopter, NSW Police Rescue and Bomb Disposal Squad, Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance Paramedics and Newcastle City Council.

The exercise is being conducted to test the multi agency response arrangements to a rescue at the bottom of the cliffs.

Chief Inspector Gerard Lawson from the Newcastle Local Area Command said the exercise will provide the agencies with an opportunity to test existing arrangements when responding to rock fishing incidents.

“The Newcastle region has some of the most enticing coastline in the country which attracts significant numbers of rock fishing enthusiasts, some of who don’t take the right precautions and who end up needing rescuing.”

“This exercise is about evaluating how we respond to these types of incidents and where needed how we can improve our response,” Chief Inspector Lawson said.

Exercise Rock Fishing involves the response to four people injured on the rocks at the bottom of a cliff and the co-ordinated response of emergency agencies.

Minister for Police and Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said our first responders are trained to deal with all kinds of emergencies.

“It is difficult to imagine a more challenging scenario than a rescue at the bottom of a cliff in rough surf.

“Rock fishers must exercise extreme caution when out fishing. Regardless of the activity you are engaged in, where there is water, there is danger.

“The NSW Government has commenced a mandatory lifejacket trial in the Randwick LGA, which will continue until 20 November this year, at which time a review of the trial will be conducted.

“However, the Government cannot be on every rock, every beach, or at every poolside. We would like to educate rather than legislate, but we need everyone, especially rock fishers to take responsibility for their actions. Our first responders are trained and ready for all circumstances – and we expect the same level of preparation from those undertaking potentially dangerous water-based activities.”

Inspector Mark Cavanough, Duty Commander Newcastle for Fire & Rescue NSW said that when rock fishers get into trouble it is generally in quite challenging situations.

“Cliff wall, rock shelf and water rescues are complex operations requiring high-level coordination between participating emergency service organisations.

“To ensure rescue personnel are trained to the highest level, we need to simulate conditions as closely as possible in all types of scenarios.

Chief Inspector Gerard Lawson added that while rock fishing is one of the most dangerous sports in Australia there are a number of tips to help make it as safe as possible.

Before you leave home check the weather conditions.

Make sure you know how to swim.

Choose the safest possible location.

Wear the right gear – wear a Lifejacket and non-slip footwear.

Never fish alone and always tell someone where you are going to fish and when you plan to return.

“All these tips and more can be found at www.watersafety.nsw.gov.au/rockfishing ” Chief Inspector Lawson said

/Public Release.