VOLUNTEERS from Marine Rescue Brunswick are forced to carry lifejackets in their own cars because of inadequate rescue facilities, their unit commander has revealed.
Marine Rescue Brunswick unit commander Rex Fisher said emergency services at Brunswick Heads are in desperate need of updated facilities and he was keen to see a new shed built as well as a new floating pontoon.
"At the moment we have a little besser block shed and our new 9.5m rigid hull inflatable doesn't even fit in so it has to stay on the river," he said.
"That's not good for it long term, we'd prefer it to be in a shed," he said.
Mr Fisher said operating from the small shed meant rescue volunteers were forced to carry life jackets and a bag of wet gear in their own cars so that they could drive straight to the moored rescue vessel to save time in the event of a call out.
A new purpose-built facility that housed the rescue vessel, had a new launch ramp and was suitable for the crew to work from could save time and therefore, lives, Mr Fisher said.
"Our purpose is to save lives and when we get a May Day we have to drop everything and go. Time can be pretty critical," he said.
The rescue service has a volunteer base of around 60 and are called out at least once a week, Mr Fisher said.
Their current base is not only too small for their vessel; it has no kitchen or shower facilities and no meeting, office or training rooms.
"Our office at the moment is either in our own homes or we meet in the tower - and that can really only fit three people comfortably," Mr Fisher said.
Byron Shire Council has thrown its support behind the call for an upgraded facility and new pontoon plans, with its Reserve Trust Committee voting to endorse a grant application to the NSW Better Boating Program for a 10m floating pontoon.
A proposal prepared by Marine Rescue grants officer, David Gilmore, would see a new floating pontoon sit next to the concrete fixed boat ramp and would replace the current awkward and dangerous ramp situation, Mr Fisher said.
"If we have to bring back a disabled vessel, we could just line it up alongside the pontoon and when we had to transport injured people the new ramp would be much quicker and safer to get them into an ambulance," he said.
"Boaties could also have three vessels at a time using the new pontoon," Mr Fisher said.
"It would make launching vessels so much simpler."
The pontoon is expected to cost around $60,000, with Byron Shire Council voting to commit $10,000 from Crown Reserve Trust funds to cover any shortfall in funds granted.
The council also endorsed a Crown Land license application to begin the planning process of enlarging the shed facilities.
No plans are drawn yet for new training and shed facilities, with Mr Fisher adding Marine Rescue would first be consulting with other emergency services in Brunswick to see what was needed for the area.
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