by Ken McManus
Marine Rescue NSW rescued 18 teenagers this afternoon, including two suffering from severe hypothermia, from a waterlogged camp site on the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River.
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Marine Rescue Hawkesbury mounted a rescue operation after a distress call at 2.15pm asking for help to rescue 18 juveniles and three supervisors from Back Beach behind Bar Island on the Hawkesbury.
MRNSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos has congratulated the crews on the successful rescue.
'These young adventurers needed help in the terrible conditions on the Hawkesbury and our volunteers didn’t hesitate to go to their aid when they received a call for help,' Commissioner Tannos said.
'Our volunteers provide a vital lifesaving service to the NSW community and I’m sure these campers were very happy to know help was at hand when our crews arrived on the scene.
'This operation has thankfully had a successful outcome but we would caution people to check the conditions and exercise abundant caution in this week’s heavy weather.'
There is a flood watch for minor flooding on the Hawkesbury River.
MR Hawkesbury Search and Rescue Coordinator Barry McGrath said as well as the two girls suffering severe hypothermia, the rest of the adventure party had been suffering from exposure.
'The group had been camping on the beach after canoeing in but conditions had deteriorated significantly with the heavy rain. With the river flowing fast and debris in the water, they were unable to canoe out,' he said.
MR Hawkesbury members Ken Edwards and Merv Collins deployed rescue vessel Hawkesbury 10, travelling to the island and transferring the two girls and a supervisor back to Deerubbin at Mooney Mooney, where they were met by a NSW Ambulance and transported to Hornsby Hospital.
Volunteers Mike Bevan and Ken Bate took water ambulance Hawkesbury 70 and two NSW Ambulance Service officers to the campsite to conduct triage and assist the teenagers, estimated to be about 15 years of age.
Mr McGrath said once the two girls in severe condition and their supervisor had been transferred to hospital, both rescue vessels then relayed the remaining teenagers back to the Marine Rescue unit wharf, from where they were transported to the F3 Ambulance Station to be collected by their parents.
The operation showed the benefit of emergency services cooperation, with the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command at Broken Bay alerted and immediately putting a vessel on standby if needed to join the rescue.
'The operation also was assisted by our members being able to talk directly to NSW Ambulance controllers via the radio on board our two water ambulances. These are the only two rescue vessels in Australia with this equipment,' Mr McGrath said.
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