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Northern NSW : Spring 2012
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service - Rescue Spring 2012 Page 5 Safe rescue in mother of storm Farmers fund service While many of us were spending the day celebrating Mother’s Day, the Rescue Helicopter was called to attend a boat in distress off the coast of Newcastle. The 15 metre fishing vessel from Port Macquarie, with three people and a dog on board, became caught-up in an east coast storm system and couldn’t make headway. Dehydrated and seasick, the skipper set off their emergency beacon in the early hours of the morning. Pilot Kevin Ratcliffe, crewmen Glen Ramplin and Nathan Langham together with ASNSW paradmedics Sean Vallance and Peter Tull set off in search of the vessel. After homing the beacon via GPS co-ordinates, the crew quickly made contact with the skipper and advised him that a crewmember would be winched down to the vessel. A strong swell and 35 knot winds forced the crew to adopt a line transfer approach. After a number of attempts a weight bag was successfully lowered onto the vessel which allowed Nathan Langham to be winched with the assistance of the skipper on the deck. It was decided to winch the two passengers onto the aircraft. According to air crewman Glen Ramplin, hi-lines are generally practiced in normal weather conditions but on this day the crew were challenged by strong winds and swells. On this day the best possible winch point was on the bow of the boat making it very challenging for the pilot who had to maintain a constant position over the rolling vessel. After a number of attempts the two passengers were safely lifted into the aircraft where they were provided with medical treatment and transported to land for further care. The skipper and his vessel were towed into Forster by Nelson Bay Water Police. Farmers from across the region continue to find ways to support the Service. Maitland Sales Yard has introduced a charity auction as part of its weekly sales to encourage framers auctioning stock to donate the proceeds from the sale of a heifer or two to the Service. The Sylvester family of Mindaribba became the first to donate a heifer to the cause at a sale in May. The eight- month old Heifer was sold for $510. Rodney McDonald from Bowe & Lidbury Stock and Station Agents said that he was hopeful that the idea will catch on and grow to a dozen heifers being donated each sale day. The skipper and his boat during the rescue