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Reality Bites -

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(generated from captions) who do it all. They're the only police in Australia

coastline and inland wilderness On any given day, Tasmania's rugged can become the scene against the odds and the elements. of a life and death struggle LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION patrol the entire State The police from Marine and Rescue and every night of the year. on land, air and sea every day Well, I didn't take the call. WOMAN ON RADIO: That's a roger. The call come in at... (Stammers) ..6:04 this morning. was a bloke got in a Canadian canoe Last night about five o'clock, there and one thing led to another from his canoe and eventually he tipped over where it empties into Bass Strait. at the mouth of the Inglis River,

have a life jacket on. At the time, he didn't They're running a search up there. to have a look. The helicopter's gone up from Hobart a dive team, This morning, I've asked for and they'll go out there and dive

recover this bloke. and see if we can He's never been a good swimmer. He's not a good swimmer, this bloke. he would have done, But what swimming he'd make for shore, you would have thought between the buoy and the shore. so...I'm thinking if we concentrate out of the river current-wise. Now, there's a fair flow Alright. Oh, well. We'll go and have a look. SOMBRE MUSIC that brings together This is an operation and dive skills. squads with helicopter, boat The work is dangerous and gruelling, of a happy ending. with not much chance the area near the mouth of the river The dive team concentrates on

where the canoeist was last seen. in both directions, The chopper crew scans the coastline supported by a volunteer land search. HELICOPTER WHIRRS You got plenty of air in your...

we're tow-searching MAN: And at the moment,

out the back of the boat here. with two divers are quite difficult. Conditions for the divers the good parts, is up to a metre. Visibility on the bottom, in Tow-searching is dangerous. in kelp and propellers. Towropes can get tangled up is impossible. Communication with the boat above you can't see your hands, MAN: At times 1.5 metres, 2 metres. and other times you can see HELICOPTER WHIRRS SOMBRE MUSIC CONTINUES

so in these conditions, Often, bodies sink to the bottom, to locate the body by touch. the police divers must try went on for three days The air and underwater search continued for a week. and the land search The man's body was never found. take into consideration There's a lot we've got to of what's happened to someone other than the grief after that, you know, and also, you know, relatives and the family we've got to deal with when it isn't us. and even the people that find them

of any police duties. It's probably one of the worst parts grieving people - it's never nice. You're dealing with relatives and But at least if we can do a dive

and recover them, or carry out a search for somebody of closure for the relatives, at least we can provide some form which is probably a good part of it. it's a little bit frustrating It's not so much a problem -

to have things, yeah, left open, we're a patient lot, but as I said previous, will turn up here or there. and I feel confident something on to another job anyway, And tomorrow we'll be for too long. so you don't sort of dwell on it and just think. I quite often sit back every rescue that I've done, I can nearly go through in white water, in big swells. and most of mine were stage, after 12.5 years of it, And I just thought there at one my number had to come up, you know. doing the rescuing all the time. I couldn't be the guy and you'd be cold and wet, And you'd come in after a rescue all the people you've rescued and the ambulance would take away

and you'd be standing there a set of dry clothes for you and your wife would bring down and finish off the job, so you could go out and something like that. like, recover the boat But you go back for another go. a bit of an emergency on. Yeah, Hobart, we've got gates as soon as you can, thanks? Do you think you could open the Roger. MAN ON RADIO: I'll let him know. UP-BEAT MUSIC

An emergency call has come through yachtsman. from a lone round-the-world look sideways! CONS. STANLEY: Don't you See you, mate. No. south of Hobart, He is drifting in Storm Bay,

and his motor out of action, and with bad weather on the way he needs help quickly. weather over the last 36 hours, He's suffered some pretty heavy he's extremely fatigued, seasick and because of that

almost in a state of panic. and he's meant to be

he's also had an engine breakdown. To compound the problems, here, the crosshair. That's the position of the yacht (Speaks indistinctly) And we'll just... The young Norwegian sailor by the roaring forties for 60 days has been lashed his yacht into the teeth of the gale. and doesn't have the strength to sail

at the moment YACHTSMAN ON RADIO: I'm not moving because the wind has changed. I was doing some monitoring. only 30 minutes to 1 hour, over. I will stay at this position if it's Blue Special, 'Van Diemen'. Blue Special, 'Van Diemen', (Man on radio answers indistinctly) Yeah, 'Van Diemen', over.

Yes, we copied your position from your location. and we're about 45 to 50 minutes Roger, roger. Thank you. (Continues indistinctly) HELICOPTER WHIRRS in the State's north-east, Meanwhile, near St Marys a steep gorge. a bushwalker has fallen down for more than 24 hours. He's been lying in the ravine Yeah, we had the call for this guy. He was seriously injured, on that basis. and so we went off fairly quickly a basic crew of three, And so there was most missions. which is pretty much the average, We've been in enough missions probably thinking about to know what the other person's

are going to be, and what their issues what's going through their minds as well as what you've got to deal with. The issues for all of us as a crew was entrance into the canyon. It's very tight, and obviously it comes down to the skill of the pilot.

The chopper is now flying so close to the trees

that any miscalculation by the pilot could spell disaster. Everyone on board is focused on their job. PETER HAMPTON: We've got about 100ft on the winch cable and we're almost to the maximum, and the trees are very high,

and the canyon was deep. EXCITING ROCK MUSIC We're very highly dependent on each of the crew members to do their role. MAN: As you're winching, the pilot basically hands over the con of the aircraft to the winch operator, because you're the eyes of the aircraft. PETER HAMPTON: And the patient really needs to be packaged on the ground.

They need to be stabilised and pretty well ready to go. EXCITING MUSIC CONTINUES The crewman on the ground uses a guide rope to make sure the stretcher doesn't spin out of control under the downdraft of the helicopter's rotors.

PETER HAMPTON: There's not a lot of room in the helicopter to treat people on the way back to hospital.

It took me 30 minutes to stabilise him on the ground. Getting up myself wasn't so bad. I got a swing up and remember hitting a tree. Not too hard, but it's something you want to do all the time. (Laughs) EXCITING ROCK MUSIC MAN: Because of his condition - he'd been out overnight,

obviously was suffering from exposure and, you know, suspected spinal injuries and other fractures and abrasions and so on - we just went straight...took him straight to Launceston Hospital, which was the closest hospital. We couldn't set the line properly on the stretcher because it was too tight, otherwise you wouldn't have moved like that normally. Yeah, right, yep. Yeah. Anyway... No, that's good. Thanks heaps. No worries, mate. So good to see you guys. Yeah, no worries. Well, let's just hope you recover pretty quick and you'll be right. Yeah, I hope so. Alright, mate, take care. Yep, thanks, mate. LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION PETER HAMPTON: Us ourselves, the police side of things, you don't always get a lot of feedback. Sometimes the paramedics do and they find out, you know, how someone's gone. We get thankyou letters and cards and so on as well. 40 miles south of Hobart, 'Van Diemen' has located the stricken yacht drifting in Storm Bay. How are you going? Are you alright yourself? Yeah. You're not sick or injured? Has your motor broken down? Yes. Right. Now, are you right to drive your boat while we tow you?

(Answers indistinctly) Very good. Sergeant Pratt makes sure that the Norwegian sailor is able to stay at the helm of his little yacht while the crew prepares for a long tow to the safety of Hobart.

(Disgustedly) Far out! On your bowspread! You right, Phil? Forward! Can you attach that?

Despite the information that we'd been given, it appears that he's not injured. He doesn't appear to be seasick. We've just taken him in tow. First thing we're gonna try and do is to get him inshore, onto the Bruny shore here so at least we're in the shelter from the wind and out of this swell.

And then once we can get in there, we'll tow him back up to Hobart. The 5-metre swells are putting enormous strains on the towline. Hello. We've lost the towline. This won't be the last time the heavy rope snaps. Well done!


It might look simple, but when it comes to search and rescue training is the key to success, and these rescue squads train hard and often. Alright, well, the object of today will be a stretcher mission to meet the Squirrel. Single lift only, obviously,

so the stretcher will be coming up by itself. Life and death situations tend to occur when you least expect them. The call can come at a moment's notice. The police have got to be on the ball and ready to roll. MAN: I was halfway through speaking to a fisherman, you know, measuring fish and all that sort of thing, and 20 minutes later I'm in the helicopter

on my way to a job, you know. It's what we're trained for. It's, you know... part of the training is to make sure that things go right. You gotta stay within the safety parameters, but also you gotta, obviously, get to the people in trouble and get 'em out of there as well, so, you can get into some pretty touchy situations with helicopters. And it's not all rescue training. They've got to be ready for the worst-case scenarios, like a chopper crashing into the sea. It's not something that I personally like doing. I think that everyone has difficulty with that training when they do it. It's sort of a necessary evil, I suppose, of training.

When you're inverted in the water, you're very confused where the exits are. It's amazing how confused you can be with the bubbles and in the panic. A lot of issues to do with underwater escape training. Right? REFLECTIVE MUSIC (Spits) DAMIAN BIDGOOD: And one comfort zone is obviously different to another's.

You work within everybody's comfort zones and it does require a lot of skill, flying helicopters in some of the areas where we're flying. Police, chopper pilots and paramedics work together all the time. They need to work as a team, making split-second decisions in all types of situations and terrain. Helicopter training needs to be done in the places where the rescues occur - in the wilderness. It's an important part of the job... ..even when you have to pretend to be a patient. Yeah, Damian, Jarrod in the radio room. We've got an incident at Clifton Beach

where a girl has fallen down a cliff and is injured, so we need the chopper out. So, if you could head to Rotor-Lift,

they're waiting for you down there and they'll head down straightaway. PHONE RINGS At Clifton, south of Hobart, a young woman has fallen down a steep cliff.

What we've got is, we've had a girl that's fallen approximately 10 metres down the cliff behind us over there, and she's got a open lower fracture, multiple fracture to one of her legs, and we've put the ambulance, paramedic and police rescue crew in at the time and they're putting her in a stretcher. The tide is on its way in. They need to get her out of there, and fast. Hello. Alright. Mate, yeah. The further out from the cliffs you can get her, the better, because there's quite a bit of turbulence coming over the top there. Righto. 'Bye. So, we'll just go up to the helicopter now, get started up and get ready and come in and winch 'em out. BOY: It was our mate. It's actually a girl. Part of our job is to make sure that we manage the scene itself and manage people around the scene, such as this one. We had a lot of kids nearby, and obviously they're concerned about their...about the patient, their friend. But also, they're probably not focused on what's around them and we got them to move out of the area, because, obviously, the downdraft with the helicopter could move a lot of things and put THEM in danger, so... EXCITING ROCK MUSIC

The paramedic comes up on the wire with the patient.

The rescue crew are trained to trust each other and their high-tech equipment.

Once she's safely on board, the rescue officer follows.


..where zero is no pain... (Continues indistinctly)

ENGINE SHUTS DOWN Do you know an Ian Shepherd? I do! This is... He's her uncle. Oh. Doesn't mean we're gonna look after you. GIRL: He's actually my... (Laughs) parents' best friend. REFLECTIVE MUSIC 'Van Diemen' has now been towing the yacht for 4.5 hours in heavy seas, and Hobart is still a long way off. There was one tow quite some time ago where a fishing vessel broke down and was drifting towards shore.

Once again, the police vessel 'Van Diemen' was on the west coast. That travelled back to the boat, took it under tow and it was towed for some 26 hours around the south coast and back to Margate. On that particular occasion the seas were running at about 10 metres on the south coast, so it was a long, heavy tow. We'll bring the yacht alongside us, tie it off with fenders,

and we'll actually drive it in towards the fuel berth. (Man on radio answers indistinctly) If we've got some people on the wharf that can assist, that could be appreciated. MAN ON RADIO: Very good, alright. I'll be there waiting for you. Thanks very much. See you shortly. Going back to 16. Cheers. Thank you. REFLECTIVE MUSIC

You want to take that... as far back as you can on something, like around...? The yacht's motor isn't working, and she is lashed to 'Van Diemen' so the skipper can manoeuvre her into the dock. Bit frightened this morning? No. It's just that when you've been at sea for six days, you... find out. I had 30 miles to go, but tonight there is a storm warning and then, next stop New Zealand. (Laughs) Long way. Yeah, and that's very long way.

But you're alright and everything, are you? What? You're alright? Yeah. Me, is OK. REFLECTIVE MUSIC It's a precise operation in a marina crowded with millions of dollars worth of yachts and cruisers. Take this one here. You can tie this one as well.

The young adventurer is safe, and tonight he'll have his first home-cooked meal for at least eight weeks. Thanks very much, fellas! For the real-life water rats, it's been another day at the office.

What we're doing is, we're heading down to a place called Tinderbox, and this morning a sea kayaker has located a dog

approximately 10 metres down one of the steep banks. Hopefully hasn't been injured overnight or anything like that. PIANO PLAYS WHIMSICAL TUNE I normally rescue people. (Barks) (Whimpers) What I've done, I've put him in the mat as best as I can... ..then I've put him inside the bag. THEME MUSIC Good thing he was nice and calm and didn't panic. See youse. No worries, mate.

No worries at all. Closed Captions provided by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd